Prana Shakti, Partnership, Pregnancy, Parenthood, Preparation, Power and Pranams.

My personal Path of Practice:
Prana Shakti
(the creative & pulsating life force within me), Partnership (a love story of two people who consciously choose one another every day), Pregnancy (Grace in my belly revealing herself through this growing baby boy who lives in my womb), Parenthood (The highest calling of them all), Purification (of all self-defining labels accumulated along the way) Preparation (for a new life, a new calling and for the birthing of all this woman has yet to become, experience, learn and know), Power (to fully stand in mine as a wife, mother and creative woman) Pranams (daily gratitude and humble thanks for my beautiful life and blessings along the way).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Memoir in Three.

I read about this exercise that helps writers uncover details of their lives by picking 10 years and writing about it. The catch? Use three word sentences. For years, I've wanted to write a book but the aim of that book has died, been reborn and changed many times as my life has. This is a little more than the last 10 years of my life, out of order and less some specifics, parts and people but it is honest, at times a little messy and a reflection of my vulnerability.

I began writing this several weeks ago and would come back, reread and add to it. I intend to spend more time with this kind of writing, focusing on condensed periods of my life. To be honest, I don't know proper writing organization nor would I win a spelling bee. I can get wordy and I have an incredible ability to create run on sentences for days on end but I can write from the heart and do so in a way that is very conversational as if we were sitting together having tea. :)

I write to clear my head and to organize my thoughts and the experiences that have made a home in my heart (and everywhere else in my body for the matter). I also write with hopes that through sharing my experiences, someone out there can find some healing for themselves. Writing helps me get to the heart of some of my experiences in life. I hope that the unfolding of my life, through the written word, can be evidence that in the end, it all works out.

Maybe I'll end up getting the memoir written one day after all.

Before and after. Then and now. Life in words. Tell a story. Not just any. But YOUR story. In three words. Three words Only. Ready set go.

Who was I? A yoga teacher. An only daughter. A motherless daughter. An only sister. A middle child. Bunch of brothers. One parted ways. Was his decision. Had to forgive. "Let it go." Lots to forgive. Lots to admit. Lots of anger. Anger lasted years. Heart was broken. He blamed me. I was young. So very young. Took me years. To stop personalizing. Not about me. His own karma. Much easier now. Then the truth. Found out truths. Many many truths. Deceptions and lies.Truths about Dad. Love my dad. Still love him. Despite the secrets. Mom never told. Then she died. Death defined me. The "story" did. This lasted years. What a mess. So many secrets. Had difficulties coping.  I'm a secret. She could've shared. She should've shared. Tried to protect. Would've hurt less. Little less shock. But she didn't. Lies create lies. Secrets create lies. Finally moved on. Met another brother. Brand new brother. 10 years older. A loving brother. Loves and accepts. We share eyes. Name is Mike. Big brother Mike. We've moved on. From the lies. From the secrets. Had to forgive.  Healing is crucial. Forgiveness saves lives. Mistakes are made. Lies are told. Still must forgive. I'll never understand. As a mom. But I've forgiven. Really have forgiven. Even the deceased. Only love now. 

How about yoga? There was yoga. Ohhh the yoga. I was humble. Yoga was grounding. What is this? Who was I? "What is Namaste'? " "Read the sign." Loved my teacher. Very first teacher. Tried to meditate. "Are there colors?" She said no. No more meditation. No more colors.  No inflated ego. Just self-discovery. Just my curiosity. Things were fresh.  Moved to mainland. Bounced around some. Started teaching yoga. Was quite bendy. Slowly became strong. Met another teacher. "Studied studied studied." Slowly grew ego. Ego hurt heart. Heart still recovering. Yep, from ego. Only different now. Self-defining ego. Self-defining bullshit. I was "teacher". Such a joke. Self-defined teacher. Forgot about student. The student within. Became pretty bored. Became pretty self-absorbed. Became very frustrated. Frustrated with students. Not just self. But outside students. Saw it happening. Had to crash. Hard hard fall. Had to fall. Not really recommended. Was my path. Wouldn't change path. Death by ego. Harmful Inflated ego. Creates false seeing. Creates false everything. 

Ohh before that...Lived in Austin. Moved to Hawaii. I got married. Didn't have "marriage". Just the title. Much to young. Both of us. Moved to TN. Moved to Clarksville. Then got divorced. Moved to Nashville. Major life changes. Got a "job". Hated that job! Then another breakup. Got very depressed. Slept on floor. Darkness for days. 3 days specifically. Then heard birds. While on floor. Birds at night? Singing at night? Wrote about it. Just like light. Light in darkness. Got off floor. Took a shower. Met with Daphne. Gave me peonies. Love peonies now. Met Dr. Robin. Went twice weekly. "Challenge irrational beliefs!!" Never forgot that. Never forget that. Never forget myself. Thank you, Robin. 

Then what happened? 

Went to Vipassana. 10 days straight. 11 hours daily. Silence and mediation. 10 straight days. No eye contact. No spoken words. Absolute self-study. Silence Silence Silence. Body, speech, mind. First time ever. All in nature. It was perfect. Back to meditation. Didn't see colors. But saw soul. Soul was injured. Remembered some things. Didn't want to. We're all healing. 

Often felt separate. "Separation is illusion". Was never separate. Just got lost. Didn't love self. Didn't *know Love. Didn't know *self. Didn't know *how. Lived in "stories". World's biggest judge. Judge of self. World's biggest critic. Critic of self. Abused my body. Recklessly abused body. Abused my intuition. Didn't honor intuition. Felt a fake. Felt a hypocrite. Wore many "OM"s. Wore many malas. "Aren't I legit? See my malas? See my website? See my backbend? I'm a teacher. See my photographs? See the magazines?" Me me me. Sanieh was lost. Sanieh...who's Sanieh? Slowly started realizing. Path is inward. "Definition" isn't external. Truth isn't backbends. "Yogini" isn't malas. Truth is Love. Nothing else matters. All is Love. Whatever that means.  Seriously, just Love. Am still comprehending. Want to know. Letting "it" go. Biggest karmic work. LET GO, SANIEH. To be realized. Fully fully realized. To teach son. Teach through being. Still not there. At my potential. Not there yet...
Am growing though...

Then met Jeff. We just clicked. Timing finally right. For us both. For *someone right. Had some healing. Had some forgiveness. Not complete yet. Mostly inward stuff. But much better. We both knew. We both grew. He loved me. He told me. I told him. We both loved. I thanked God. Who was God? Jeff showed me. Didn't mean to. But he did. Never was alone. Never was forgotten. Was Always loved. Loved by God. God inside me. Not separate God. Not outside God. God within me. He teaches that. "He" meaning Jeff. Doesn't mean to. Doesn't even know.  But he does. Love him so. Still searching though. Searching for God. Makes no sense. No "search" needed. God is there. In my everything. Always been there. Still absorbing this. Still digesting it. May take time.  Is "Love" God? Maybe Loves' God.

"Oh My Goddess". "Jeff! Jeff! Jeff!". I couldn't speak. Sat on toilet. Covered my face. Literally, 20 minutes. Couldn't speak words. Only spoke tears. "Oh my God". Was *this God? In my belly? Always wanted motherhood. Started to wonder. He held space. "Gonna be PARENTS!" He said whispering. I'll never forget. I was terrified. Wanted it though. Was still terrified. Motherless daughter here. Wondered, "Could I?" Knew I could. But was sad. Wanted MY mom. Was "story" defined. Worked through that. Very different now. Am still sad. On some days. Am also strong. On most days. And I remember. Its all perfect.

Jeff proposed marriage. At Yoga Vida. On his mat. Where we practiced. In the mandala. "Help with handstand?" But no handstands. On his knee. Gave me kisses. Still was clueless. Then a ring. Made for me. I said "Yes". Vic freaked out. Quite funny, really :) We married there. AT Yoga Vida. Couldn't believe it.  I cried hard. Finally my turn. "I choose you." Giant Ganesha Altar. On yoga mat. Where we met. Yoga mat altar. OM Jai Ganesha. Auspicious new beginnings. 

Something started happening...
Ego began deflating. Damn inflated ego. Was still teaching. With more humility. Think they knew. I definitely knew. It was time. I would pray. Pray for love. To share love. Teach from love. Real deal love. "Just breathe, Sanieh." I spoke less. I loved more. Wanted to heal. Myself and them. For my son. Can I heal? Knew I could. If I loved. Space was created. I stopped talking. Opened my heart. Facilitated fluid peace. Opening for all. I would cry. Chant and cry.  "Mata Durga Swaha." Cried during Savasana. So did they. We cried together. Did they know? We're all healing. The yoga heals. The right kind. "Right" is relative.

Felt baby move.  On wedding night. Sweet baby boy. God loved me. I never knew. I felt punished. Did something bad. Really really bad. The mom died. Thought God punished. That's not true. God doesn't punish. Its all lies. Love only loves. Wondering what name. "God" and baby. How about "Universe"? How about "Goddess"? How about "Light"? How about "Grace"? How about "Spirit"? How about "Love"? Sometimes resist "God". Name and essence. Name and existence. Existence within myself. Working on that. Again, for son. Know there's Truth. Truth deep down. God in belly. Grace in belly. It's all love. Names don't matter. God doesn't punish. Grace doesn't forget. I was loved. Had to be. I had proof! Proof in Jeff. Proof in belly. I was opened. I was loved. I am loved. Was always loved. 

Sweet growing baby. Labored at home. Chose home birth. Best choice ever. Rocked my foundation. Foundation still rocked. Still quite profound. "Profound" is overused. It's MUCH bigger. Shook ENTIRE Universe. Everyone is different. Everything is different. Who am I? Not the same. Never her again. Pregnancy did that. I saw suffering. As a child. My own mother. I remembered that. During my pregnancy. Saw her suffer. Hurt my heart. Growing momma heart. "Please God, please. Not my baby." Never see suffering. Can't protect that. But not ME. No suffering mommy. Not like mine. Please God, please. Protect my child. Protect his eyes. See me thrive. See mommy happy. Never suffering mommy. Jeff promised me. "It's my gift. Gift to you. Not our baby. Don't you worry. I promise you. Not that life. Won't be his. Not that loss. He'll never see. No suffering mommy. No suffering parents. Not like that." Thank you, God. Thanks for Jeff. Thank you, Jeff. For our baby. For your promises.

June this year. Busy hot Saturday. Went to nursery. Got some plants. Hot  Hot Hot. Took a nap. Felt some cramps. Then water broke. Labor happened quickly. "Gum Ganapatiye Namaha". Removal of obstacles. Fear lasted seconds. There I chanted. Chanted during labor. Many different chants. Some the same. Same as pregnancy. He was familiar. Knew my voice. Recognized the chants. 1 specific chant. 1 specific song. Recognized them both. Then it happened. I saw God. In my arms. Baby loved me. I loved him. In an instant. Never the same. Shiny, new baby. Thank you, God. Smiling right now. I gave birth. Then I died. Died right there. In our home. Where I birthed. 

Who am I ? She's no more. Brand New Woman. Grew a baby. Then baby left. Left my body. Now new body. Trying to ground. In new body. In my heart. Catching my breath. Still, almost everyday.  My new heart. My new thoughts. My new worries. My new love. Protect him, God.  Please protect Keyhan. My heart expanded. Grew another chamber. Still in recovery. Open heart surgery. Recovery never ends. Body recovers though. Still in adjustment. I'm a mom. A motherless mother. Its all serendipitous. Its all inexplainable. I'm a mommy. Mommy to Keyhan. Keyhan means "Universe". He's OUR Universe. 

Yoga is random. Random at home. Perfect yoga though. Teacher no more. That's not true. Teacher of love.  Now a student. Student to Guru. Baby boy Guru. Jeff is yoga. He's my yoga. Opportunities in humility. "Letting Go" opportunities. Inflated ego shatters. Its a mess. Death of ego. Starting brand new. Not her anymore. Never her again. Self-Identification struggles. Who was I? Who am I? There is time. Time for everything. I am unfolding. New me unfolding. Keyhan's mommy now. Jeff's wife now. Focused energy now. There is time. For other things. Just not now. Focused on love. Loving my family. Being their heartbeat.  Brand new Sanieh. Not sure yet. Who she is. Who she'll become. Slow, full breaths. Om Jai Ganesha. Here I am. Every new day. I wanted love. Now its here. Saw this life. Was always here. Just didn't know. Once was blind. Now I see. In my belly. Now on bed. Sleeping sweet baby. Happy happy baby. Happy happy mommy. Happy happy Daddy. I'm still adjusting. For a while. Just my path.  Hard to convey. But am breathing. Thank you, God. So much love. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Letting Go

"The journey into Motherhood can be seen as 'breaking open'. We have to be willing to go through the pain and struggle of the changes that Motherhood brings with it in order to be able to break through and show our fullest potential and our hidden splendour, like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon."
I've been trying to write this for for a few weeks now. Each time I have a moment to come back to it, I have to modify it as things continue to evolve. That said, I've grown with some of this as it has evolved, or shall I say as *I* have evolved. After all, I'm a Mom now. I'm an entirely different person on an honest to goodness cellular level. 

This whole thing that is Motherhood continues to school, open and humble me in ways I could have never, ever planned on or imagined. Pregnancy was one thing. Being a mother to a living, breathing baby outside of one's body is an entirely different thing. Wow.

Here's to my new calling. I bow to you, Motherhood. I'm on my knees...bowing to you...

If pregnancy was about the ultimate practice of surrender, then being a mom and actually having my son outside of my body is the most intense act of letting go I've ever experienced in my life.

For me, if there's a heart break to any of this, it's this part.

Obviously I absolutely love having him here outside of me to love, hold, nurse and to nurture, yet its also heartbreaking as I endure what's sure to be the first of many moments of letting go.


Within days of giving birth, I became very weepy. It wasn't a normal weepy nor was it a postpartum depression or "hormonal" kind of weepy. My husband put a call in to our midwife realizing that he didn't know how to help me and when he would ask me, I couldn't tell him what I needed either. Our midwife recommended before all else, that he feed me then put me to bed immediately suggesting he take the baby out of the room so that I could get some sleep. She instructed that he wake me only to nurse. The night we did this allowed me my first 3.5 hour stretch of sleep which was most needed, but I wasn't "all better" even so.

GB called us a day or two later to check in on me and to see how I was feeling. I'm usually pretty good at expressing myself but this postpartum experience-my changed heart that is-has trumped any prior experience and all previous knowing altogether.

What it came down to was this:
I was grieving.

I was in a serious state of grief knowing that never again, would I be able to protect my child in the same way as I was able to do while he was in my womb.

Nature didn't intend for him to stay there and I was saddened by this in a way. This not only troubled me deeply, but gave me one serious case of anxiety. I have been grieving the suffering in the world, my contribution to its current state and the affects it will have on my son in the likely, almost guaranteed event that he too, will come to know this suffering within our world in some way, shape or form.

How can I protect my son from the suffering in the world, yet make him aware that it exists so that he may do his part and add healing where his life and karma calls him to?

I have grieved his vulnerability and I have even grieved the loss of my carelessness, ignorance and all that has been dormant inside of me up until this point. The ignorance truly was bliss...

But now I have a son.
I have a child
I have a responsibility to my child 
that has pulled something out of me...
Something that I didn't even know was there.

I'm sure this too will become a little easier but for now, it is what it is. I know that in time, I can find more peace with the world that circumbobulates around my son a little more than what I feel capable of at the moment.

This reminds me of the story of Prince Siddhartha before he became a Buddha. He lived much of his life unaware of the suffering in the world. One night he escaped the walls of his palace and went out into the world looking for it. It took his witnessing this suffering to change his life so that he could desperately answer the call of how to end it…


Since all of this started, I've expressed to my husband (and have asked for his help and support in expressing to those closest to us) that what I need most isn't to have my home cleaned or a meal made. What I am in need of is space for my new family so that I can recover from the intensity and deep emotion of bringing my son into the world and learning to be his mother. What I need is understanding and support in my following my intuitive mother-guide no matter how much or little sense she makes to anyone else. She will serve her purpose in the highest when it matters most. This I know more than anything else.

In my anxiety it comes to me…

People in our society seem to forget the strong need for a mother to tend to and be protective of her child after birth has been given. It's really quite primordial and there are cultures in our world today that still honor this something fierce. They honor that the way to the infant and the way one cares for it is through the mother first and foremost. As my dear friend reminded me, my vagina totally broke open as did my heart...only the vagina has worked its way back together, but not the heart.

My intuition is at an all time high and I sense everything around me much more deeply than I had previously.  In relation to my son, I am sensitive to over-excitement (as is his tiny nervous system), uncontrolled and unmanaged excess energy of others and other people coo-ing over my child up close in his face. Much more than I can express, it's all quite anxiety provoking for me which affects my entire foundation and by default, that of my son. Crazy? Perhaps. But it is what it is...and it's Nature. I’m certain this is something that I’ll be able to soften into as time goes by but he’s still brand new and I’m still a brand new mommy.

What I know now is that the biology of a woman changes once she gives birth. Her radar and biological hardwiring in respect to her infant is one of the strongest forces on the planet and should be regarded and honored with the upmost respect. I cannot even begin to get into all that Science has and has not been able to document as far as what forces are taking place in my heart field right now. There are pulls and forces within me that I am not qualified to explain but am more than qualified, by laws of Nature, to have unwavering confidence of and in their Truth.

I understand that not everyone can relate or understand what I’m trying to express here but it goes beyond reason, ration, logic or explanation. It's all I know to protect and guard my child and right now, everything and everyone is a perceived threat in a way. It’s got nothing to do with anyone or anything…it’s biological. It’s undefinable. This goes back to the fact that I carried him inside of me for so long, the outside world in *general is a threat. It's all I know to tend to his needs and to keep his environment energetically sterile and pure. It's not for others to get or to understand try as I might, but it IS for me to tend to at any cost and at any price necessary.

I've avoided with great caution the modern medical model up to this point... why would my approach post birth be any different just because he's outside of my body? I'm still the sole provider/life-giver to my child right now and I am extremely protective in the newness of it all. It's my job to be.

Really what I need is little expectation outside of all of this right now so that I can be given the time and space to learn how to breathe again being Keyhan's mother, a wife and my new self now.


As I learn to sink into the grief, I learn to breathe through the self-judgment of not always being the giddy, shiny new mother. I remember to be compassionate towards myself and to remember that he must need my sensitivity to help facilitate and support his own karmic path. Without these aspects of myself, without my cracked open heart, I could not be all that he needs of me. This being so very AWAKE, so raw and tender right now is a glimpse into a purity I've never experienced. There is so much beauty in the intensity of it all yet feeling everything so deeply can take my breath away at times.

I'm still visited by this grief and I'm sure it will always walk beside me in a way. But now, I'm learning to "be" with it. I'm learning how to adapt in/to the world and how I relate to it now. So now I sink into it. I feel it in my belly, throat and heart...but I continue to sink...

When I look back on labor, during specific parts in particular, I felt an all encompassing surrender and that the gate of that surrender was the Mystery; The Feminine and ultimate of all love. God. In the eye of that Love was Me. I was there, I was all of these aspects, not separate from them. For the first time in my life, I experienced true non-dualism in the way of all that is. 

As I remind myself of this I remind myself that my child too, is not separate from this Love Light. 

There's a surrender that continues, a surrender to the Universe that my child will be held in this Light and will be supported, protected and loved beyond that of my human and motherly control and comprehension.

Dear Self,

In his perfection, his innocence, his contentment and his smiles, I am full.
In his drinking in the nectar of life at my breast, I am Mother Goddess.
In his curiosity, I too, can be curious as I learn and learn and learn.
In his trust, I can trust that I am still supported 
and so intimately carried 
and connected, 
as is my child 
by all that is Love.

I am at peace with my world.
My child chose me and needs my sensitivity.
I am so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
I am a powerful, confident and an incredible mother to my child.

"There is no force more powerful than the Love of a mother to her child.....not even God can match it." Yogi Bhajan 

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Birth Story"

"Being pregnant and giving birth are like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge. They can greet you on the other side. But you walk that bridge alone.” African Proverb

I've been doing tons of writing since June 9th (and long before) including trying to write my "birth story" for some time now (I actually asked my husband to write his version since his perspective and relationship to it was/is a completely different one that mine). I had heard that "processing" one's birth can take some time, years even. I had initially assumed that if processing were required, then the birth must have gone in an undesirable direction. Having experienced the very birth I hoped for, wanted, meditated on and visualized, I still find myself trying to process the experience as a whole.


 It's Wednesday, June 13th, 7:20p.m. My name is Sanieh and I just gave birth to my son 3 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes ago.

I recently began writing details of our birth story and by "our" I mean that of my family; not only the birth of my precious son but that of my husband becoming a father and of myself being born as a mother.

As I find myself just a few days on the other side of that narrow bridge and as each new day brings its own insights of that sacred process, I've realized that I cannot possibly write, never mind share, my birth story at this time. It's still being digested.

I could tell you that the duration from the time my water broke to the moment I birthed our son was a quick and progressive 7 hours.  I did it completely drug-free, through my body's wisdom alone, naturally, in the comfort of our home and on my own terms...thank you sweet Grace.

I could share that there was a very emotional and symbolic lighting/prayer vigil at my family's Ganesha altar where I initially labored and that at my Mommy altar, I got on my knees and made a mantra of asking my worldly mother to be with me and put a photo of her in my shirt close to my heart...only to later realize I was asking THE Mother to be with me... She hasn't left me since.

I could share that there was a birthing tub in the center of my bathroom and 4 people who were all meant to be there loving and supporting me-even though my eyes were closed the whole time and I never looked into the eyes of any of them. At one point, the bathroom was filled with dozens of candles they lit as well. I only know this because the photographer turned on the bathroom light which got an immediate reaction out of me as my senses became incredibly heightened (still are in many ways) and the midwife had the lights turned out instantly. The remedy was candles...lots of them.

I knew that while none, one or all them were interchangeably in that room with me throughout this period of time, my work was an inward one. I never once asked where anyone was nor did I ever feel scared or alone...just incredibly and miraculously present.

I could "tell" you that I was in another state of consciousness; a state that only a woman who is free of any kind of drugs in her system could possibly go to, scientifically speaking, due to the hormones and endorphins that can only be released as Nature's coping mechanism and as a result of experiencing what is happening on the physical plane. I could also tell you that I danced that dance embracing the changing tides and called upon something I remembered, making a choice to go to the center of each swell .

I can still hear my beautiful midwife telling me,
"Sink into it, Sanieh."
And I did.
Those words changed everything...

Through words, I could tell you that there was an in-explainable ability to float between the two worlds I found myself in but words could never do justice. In one world, the waves came on stronger and more powerful than anything my body or mind has ever known or had to comprehend. So much richer than what I could have ever possibly imagined; I was somehow able to come back yet stay connected during the lingering sensations that flirted with brief pauses. I could share my visualizations, my repeated visualizations that got me through the most challenging part of child labor or that the most challenging part  was followed by what my husband said was accompanied by cycles of extreme intensity and the deepest state of peace he'd ever seen me in...I think I remember him whispering in his amazement during the peace.

I could try to explain how I found myself praying to Mother Goddess and Father God (it's all the same to me...) that I too would be delivered with my son...even though my inner, wordless prayer could never have been translated by anyone...not even myself until just a short while ago.

I could try to express (and fail miserably) how it is that I would never describe the physicality as "pain" but that it truly was the BIGGEST physical experience of my life and that the only word that could ever come close to labeling this experience is "Surrender". And that through the death of self, fear, worldly thoughts and expectations; through the cessation of time, space, names, faces, colors, perceptions and beliefs, I existed in the Mystery itself, in the presence of my Source. I was with God, AS separation...only devotion, commitment and love.

I could share the chants I chanted during the different stages of the process and the sounds I found myself humming as if to somehow cradle and carry myself through the particular parts that were beyond any kind of comprehension, previous experience or description.  And in raw honesty, I could say that hearing one of them in particular now is almost unsettling even in its immense beauty and significance of this moment in time.

I could attempt to express what it felt like to hear the brief cries of my creation after he left the vessel of my inner body and what it felt like to see his head turn towards me as his cries stopped while he looked at me as he heard my voice chanting a familiar chant the moment we touched one another's skin for the very first time.

Grace is real.
And I was held by Grace
as I held my child for the very first time.

I could get excited and talk about my newfound amazement in just how wise and brilliant my body is, how deeply I've tuned into my innate intuition and how it's served me, how powerful I feel, how rocked I am at my core, how different I feel when I wake up in the morning and how different my husband looks to me, right down to his long eye lashes.

And of course I could share details of how my every wish, prayer and care of this home-birth were fulfilled and that the only void was of those things I had truly feared and didn't want to come to know anyway.

What I cannot share is the story of our birth because I've realized that while I could put these details and include intimacies, my prayers and conversations with God and my child moving through me and words I heard around me all into story form, this birth story of ours and the processing of it is still writing itself. This that will continue for some time.

Through the magnitude and enormity of my experience,
I have been birthed a new woman
and its something I'm reminded of and visited by every day now.

Knowing what I know and knowing the Truth
as I now know it
I am forever changed.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Guide to Self-Care: For the Spiritually Fit Momma In the Making

This is just a little something I've put together that has kept me deeply connected to my foundation during such a time of continuous change in my body, heart and in the new ways of experiencing life...and GROWING life! I’m sharing with the hopes that it might be helpful to another momma in the making or at least stimulate some ideas to explore in the way of self-care. Really, this could be used by pretty much anyone but if you are pregnant, be sure and check with your pregnancy care-taker (midwife or OB) if you have questions. 

All of this information pulls from what has been beneficial for me personally based on experimentation, intuition and knowledge/training/experience from my expertise of teaching yoga professionally, being a licensed Aethetician and actually experiencing pregnancy. I hope you enjoy :)

Homemade Lemon scrub.

This is so simple and inexpensive. Take a cup or so of sugar and fresh squeezed lemon so that you have a paste.

*Add a little bit of water and a touch of your favorite cleaners and massage onto your face. Rinse and repeat. Make sure you keep it away from your eyes. I like to let this sit on my face and neck for a few minutes while I read or shave so that the natural acids in the lemon can work to dissolve the superficial dead skin on the epidermis. I also make sure I bring plenty of sugar with me so that I can scrub the rest of my body (what I can see or reach at this point that is) while I'm at it.  Follow up immediately with moisturizer so that your skin absorbs it instead of attempting to moisturize when the pores are closed.

Enjoy a Cup.

*Lemon Water.
Bring water to a boil, cool and squeeze a wedge or two or three into a mug. Sip and enjoy.

This is an an Ayurvedic original that is used to gently remove ama or toxins from the system as well as aid in digestion among many other things. In the Ayurvedic tradition, warm (technically it's not recommended with boiling water) lemon water is to be sipped on first thing in the morning, every morning.
Here's a short and informative article on some of the many benefits:

*Fresh raspberry leaf tea.

A few friends of mine told me about this early on in my pregnancy. Raspberry Leaf Tea is usually one of the main ingredients in “mother’s tea” varieties since its purpose is to support the uterus (traditional Medicinals makes one but for the most benefits, fresh is best. If you are in the Austin area, the Herb Bar sells this super cheap) and is said to help ease contractions during labor but also to help keep the uterus toned (helpful for both labor and recovery thereafter).

*Spiced Milk.
Bring any kind of "milk" to a boil. Let it climb the pot a few times especially if it's dairy milk so that it can break down the protein molecules making it easiest to digest (Due to the number of hormones/pesticides in commercial milk, Organic is by far best and a non-negotiable in our home when the rare occasion arises that we go for dairy). Be sure you stand over it and watch your temperature. For the most flavorful results, work with fresh ingredients but if you’re in a hurry or want to make life easier, you could toss in a chai spice bag. Add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods (I don’t de-pod them but I do crack the shell open) and sliced ginger to your liking. I let the flavors marry for about 5-10 in the pot then I pour it all into my mug so they continue to mingle. I’m sure if I spent more time (remember, you have to keep an eye on it) it would be more flavorful but this is plenty and satisfying for my husband and I both Add in sweetener at the end (especially if using honey since its qualities become toxic when it's cooked).
(Note 1: While you could add a tea bag, I purposely did not include that in this recipe.
Note 2: All of these spices have medicinal qualities that are too abundant to list here. Do a search when you have some time.)

*For a cold option:

 I love to make cucumber or orange water by cutting thin slices and tossing them into a pitcher of filtered water. Chill and enjoy.

Daily Gratitude Journal.

Each evening, I sit down with my dedicated journal and write "Today I am grateful for" and list at least 5 things. There have been days and even a series of days when I didn’t write due to the craziness of the day, my pregnancy sleepiness or any other number of reasons. So when it occurs to me I sit down, add up the days and have no problem listing the same number of things I have been grateful for over the missed period of time. It allows me to reflect on the simple blessings in life and really keeps things in perspective. I've found that since I have made it an evening ritual as opposed to writing when I think about it, it's become much rarer that I miss writing daily.


My husband bought me this  zafu-zabuton meditation set for Christmas Every morning upon rising, I roll out of bed, go to my dedicated meditation space, make an symbolic gesture/offering by lighting incense and candles at my altar (this can be made up in a shoebox with a pretty piece of material and a beautiful photograph or memento of any kind by the way) and I sit for 10 minutes. On some days, I will sit twice but definitely first thing in the morning. Sometimes I use mantrayana (mantra meditation), sometimes I silently repeat an affirmation (lately it goes something like, "my body knows how to birth my baby naturally and effortlessly" or "my body births naturally with strength, ease and instinct" and sometimes I just focus on my breath.

Having taken a 10 day vow of silence where we meditated for 11 hours a day for 10- days straight in 2007, this is no longer about that or how *long I sit. 
For me, this is about a consistent, regular and dedicated practice that I've come to depend on especially when I consider the fact that my world is about to get a little hectic and unpredictable bringing a child into my life. It's a practice that takes times to develop like anything else and is one that has kept me anchored and has strengthened my intuition and presence. As a matter of fact, my husband has been witness to the benefits of a regular and consistent meditation practice and often sits with me. I recently ordered him the same meditation cushion set so he doesn't nab mine when he does :)

Note: I recommend having two places to meditate in your home. My meditation practice is very personal and private. When my in-laws stayed overnight with us recently, I opted to sit at my "Mommy Altar" that lives in my bedroom by the window instead since my main meditatin space is out in the open. While they are different, both are simple set ups but incredibly sentimental and meaningful which draws me to them rather than just being "decoration" like many "altars" I've had in the past.

Juice it up.

I absolutely love my micro-nutrients! There are few things that give me a surge like freshly juiced greens! The secret in my home is to add an apple to the mix. You could juice anything but here's a basic, delicious and nutritious recipe we have come up with that seems to be a staple in our home:

An entire head of Rainbow Chard
3-7 whole carrots or a few handfuls of baby carrots
If we have it on hand, I also add celery and/or cucumber which adds a fresh flavor but I really like to aim for dark, nutrient-filled  greens primarily. Put in an reusable jar, shake it up and enjoy. I like mine extra cold so I'll often juice and then put it in the fridge and drink it a few hours later but always within 24 hours.

Note: We prefer organic for many reasons, especially these days. A user-friendly reference on pesticide levels can be found here :

The list and levels begin on page 2.


While I have purposely only read only 2 (one was SUPER short!) books in relation to pregnancy/babies cover to cover, I get that many will be inclined to spend all of their time reading baby books. If you're a momma in the making, baby books might be included in your mix but be sure to read comfort books as well. That means something different to each person of course so pick your passion. Take some much needed and deserved time for yourself right now. Who knows when we will have uninterrupted time to do so in the near future.

Spend time with girlfriends and other momma friends.

This has been one of the sweetest parts of my pregnancy. There is something about connecting with other women during such a feminine time. My girlfriends have held space for me, loved on me and even mothered me like none other. They have so genuinely held me up and supported me and have shared their wisdom as peers who have gone before me as deeply spiritual women who can relation to what my personal experience has been. There is saying, “We become who we hang around." It’s for this reason that I have felt so understood being surrounded by my girlfriends because we have much in common anyway in the way of spirituality, belief systems and how we choose to navigate our lives. So there’s more listening, receiving, nurturing and supporting… and less explaining.

Get Moving…or slow down.

Pregnancy isn't the time to begin a physical activity so if you were not previously active, taking up a pre-natal yoga class is one exception that is suitable to begin during pregnancy. If you were previously active, listen to and trust your body and keep doing what you do. If nothing else at all, head out for a morning or evening walk and get some fresh air into your lungs. Not only is it good physically but it will increase endorphins and you will feel better for it!

That said, every trimester has been so incredibly different in my experience. I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade and have been a CrossFitting for 3 years so my body was definitely conditioned to continue. While I have done both throughout the majority of my pregnancy, the time did come when I needed and wanted to stop. I still practice some yoga but it’s VERY different in what I do and duration yet it's so incredibly satisfying and perfect every time...because I'm honoring my needs. 

The most important thing to remember is that every pregnancy is so unique. Having had some training in pre/post natal yoga and having taught classes in these areas, I would do it totally different now. Simply being trained in this area is not at all the same as being in the pregnancy experience itself. I wholeheartedly believe that this is a journey one must go on to fully understand how it feels on on the physical, mental and emotional level. While these classes can be beneficial under proper circumstances, there is not a class, teacher or pre-natal book that can possibly teach (especially if they've never experienced the journey themselves) what the wisdom of your body can teach you if you are dialed in. No matter how conditioned you may be for something physically, pregnancy trumps all. Don't beat yourself up over it either. Love yourself for it. Listen to your body. It's crucial that you honor your inner knowing on this. It's the way Nature has intended it to be during this time.

Say "Thank You".

Pregnancy has connected me to The Mother like nothing in my life ever has. Through carrying life, I have been so blessed to experience Mother Earth, Mother Love and my own Earth Mother who left her body in 1994 in ways I will never be able to convey. It’s connected me to the powers of Grace, my own innate divinity and on the deepest level, my breath of life. The gratitude I feel, on many days, overwhelms me to the point that all I can muster is a heart-felt “Thank You”.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Living the Questions

Rainer Maria Rilke - Live the Questions Now

"...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

I've been thinking about these words of poet Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet for some time now. Specifically, I've been thinking about "Living the questions" and how it relates to where I find myself in my life at the moment. 
When I pause in acknowledgement of where I find myself, I stand in awe of what it's taken to get here. I feel so incredibly overwhelmed and cleansed in gratitude not only for the trials and blessings along the journey but for gratitude itself. One of my daily rituals is that I write in my gratitude journal. It's helps me to stay grateful for the incredibly BIG and abundant life I live that is just so incredibly full. It helps me to be much more aware of the mundane and ordinary blessings that are equally huge and meaningful in my day to day life.

Just like meditating or anything else, dedication becomes habit-forming. I'm starting to actually look for the things to be grateful for now. And everything "counts".

In this gratitude and in my quiet, continuous and daily "Thank You!" to the Universe, what I ponder most from my desire to be grateful are Rainer Maria Rilke's words about not searching for the answer but living the question itself. I've come across this quote so many times in my life but only recently did it really click for me. Only recently did the question, living it, turn into an action.
"How can I show them that I love them, today?"
Just having this question floating around in my consciousness has changed my way of being. 
My purpose today is to be a teacher of love to my family. It's the single most important thing in my life right now and my prayer is that through living my question, consciously, I can answer it through action on a daily basis beginning with the two people who matter the most in my Universe. 
What question are you living?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

...And then She Danced.

There are so many things this body cannot do right now. 

There are so many beautiful images I see of the human form that I can practically taste yet I know they are not for me at this moment. It's all relative of course.

Earlier today, we had some maternity photographs taken. Our first official family portraits :) At one point, Jeff and I went into headstands and I started to play in lotus while inverted; something this body had been conditioned to do so very easily in my pre-pregnancy days. What were once my incredibly open hips, seem to feel like legs of a barbie doll that, upon being pushed to deeply, would pop off of my body. 

There are many things this body may or may not be able to do right now but I know that the payoff for going in these directions will be non-existent with a far greater risk than any possible reward. So instead, I visualize and I admire and I appreciate, from a whole new gifted perspective, what I have previously felt in this body knowing that this is a very special time and that all of "that" will be there for me to re-explore in the most intimate, present way ever, soon enough.

Instead, I choose to focus on what this beautiful body I get to call mine for the time being CAN do.

It can fill out and become more curvaceous than it's ever been. It can expand and stretch and remain smooth and soft even so. This beautiful body has the power to make all that it contains feel more feminine, sexy, fluid and graceful than ever before. 

It has empowered me. 

It has given me the most confidence in my body's natural abilities, deepened my intuition and sense of bodily awareness 

And it has allowed the man I love to love me even more, and more OF me, in ways he has never in his life imagined loving the feminine. 

This life giving, life sustaining body that I get to call mine isn't currently putting legs behind the head or twisting up in arm balances effortlessly and with ease like before. 


These hips are creating a different kind of space.

 These breasts are becoming full and firm with the nectar of life. 

And what was once a flat belly is now a beautiful blossoming and *moving henna belly that is the KEEPER of life as it houses its swimming creation...the very creation whose birth will complete the orgasm that in its nature completes the most intimate expression of commitment, loyalty and love two human beings can share. 

No... this body isn't doing the aesthetically celebrated deep openings it once was nor does it feel the need to. 

Instead, it's preparing for the most profound, most feminine deep opening known to humankind.

It is resting, nurturing, loving, sustaining and CREATING LIFE...the very life that will make its way through the very body that is the lifeline and source of creation.

What this body CAN do is 


I can close my eyes, lift the corners of my mouth and move my spine and hips to the tribal sounds, Egyptian and world beats that fill this naturally lit space as my arms and body float in the most sensual way they have ever moved before. As this body feels the percussion move through Her, She is guided by Mother Earth as she bends and breathes all that surrounds and supports her while emphasizing each new curve. 

What this body can do is Create Life 
for the growing Love inside of it


Give life BACK 
to the keeper of it.

 A Full Woman I Am.

 And THAT is to be celebrated.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quiet Time

Quiet Time It's a silent Saturday morning as I sit in our dedicated "Intentional Space"  in our home and complete this entry. The only sound that surrounds me are the morning songs of the birds outside the window that provide the beautiful backdrop lighting of this Ganesha statue that sets the stage for the auspicious new beginnings of each day and of that of this new home space and all that's yet to come for us. It's been almost a month since stepping down from my regular public class teaching schedule and almost three weeks since we moved out of our downtown condo and into our beautiful home. Now that we are moved in, I'm feeling so much more settled. Lots to do still but everything is unpacked and almost everything is where it belongs. We are doing some small preparations to the baby's room but keeping it simple. We've mindfully worked to create a home space that echoes our intentions in how we want to raise this gift of a child and to do so in such a way that is truly aligned with who we are. I think Jeff would concur when I say that this home reflects our inner most personal, private and authentic selves more than any other either of us have ever lived in before now. We continue to feel incredibly grateful for the blessings in our lives and for the serenity that surrounds us. Because I keep a journal for my son of the details of experiences throughout this pregnancy, I don't have as much in me to share as intimately in this forum. What I can share however is that from the very beginning, I made an agreement with myself that I would do whatever needed to be done to experience this time as the most sacred, most holy experience of my life; that I didn't want to just rush through it to get to it, I wanted to be so present to the process of birthing a mother and a family and all that comes with it.  This has been the most incredibly *transformative time in my life and after getting to know me in a very intimate and personal way, the dedicated women of my birthing team keep telling me that giving birth will be incredibly transformative as well. Long before stepping onto the path of motherhood, I knew this to be my truth.  I  have had some incredibly profound and deeply spiritual breakthrough moments that have brought me to my knees and back up again. I have felt connected ways much deeper than words could every convey to the energy of ancient and mythical women and to some mothers in my life including that of my own mother who left her body on May 13th, 1994. I'm starting to have visuals of their energetic presence and feeling very receptive to the whispers of wisdom of those who have crossed this abyss long before me.   This process combined with all of the changes that have gone on in my life has helped to quiet my mind and internal dialog and has allowed me to feel my feet sink firmly into the Earth element and prepare for the natural next phase of my life. I feel so content when I share that I actually feel READY. I feel ready to get down to the nitty gritty, "bare bones" and to be stripped down in every way that birthing, like dying, requires of us. I feel ready to be a mother. I feel ready to apply my life's work, my yoga and spiritual practice in the more important way yet. I feel ready. While I always saw myself as a mother one day, I never knew that I would actually ever feel ready... but I do now. As my friend said to me in a conversation in reference to her husband and love of being a new mother, "I love the love that my husband and I have created." While I've kept a few commitments like a workshop I taught last weekend, Yoga and Poetry and Yoga Expo in May as well as 1 private client I'll be seeing at least a few more times, I'm spending the majority of time at home with my dog, Layla and my husband.  I've always loved being in the kitchen but these days it's taken on a whole new, meditative meaning. There's something very satisfying to me about chopping vegetables or cooking/baking healthy and delicious food as I meditate on gratitude and on how much love I'm feeling in my body and in my life right now. I'm drinking a lot of organic teas and water with cucumbers or fresh citrus floating in it, going on morning walks, practicing some very meditative, quality yoga, singing and chanting to my baby with my Shruti box, some reading and taking advantage of a whole lot of quiet, personal time. I've taken some time off from weight training due to the move but am starting back next week one on one so that it's catered to my expanding needs. More than anything, I've become much more quiet in body, speech and mind. We decided to go bare bones and get just the local television channels only so that we could use our Apple TV for movies when we wanted and so that we could stream the lifetime membership we purchased of "Calm Radio" which has a really great "OM" channel we both love... along with dozens of others we haven't even listened to yet. The OM channel is *that good :) When I wake in the mornings, I open my eyes and see my "Mommy/Goddess" altar and just beyond that, the greenbelt outside my bedroom window.  On most mornings, peaceful, low volume chants and the smell of nag champa incense fill the air then we open the back door so that Layla can run free in the greenbelt for a while and I can sit on the back deck steps while welcoming some fresh morning air into my lungs. I love beginning my days this way.  The butterflies are everywhere and bring me to a state of wonder and curiosity I've felt void of for a really long time until now. Sometimes, we will take Layla for a walk morning and/or evening while taking notes on our neighbor's landscaping while just being present to everyday, often over-looked nature blessings. All in all, there's a clarity and an appreciation I'm feeling extremely present to right now. There's an innocence that is growing inside of me and he's bringing forth all that has been dormant and as a result, anchoring me. I'm so happy to have thought to take this time off so that I could retreat inward. It's made an enormous difference in my state of being and has allowed space for me to loosen my grip in some areas and to welcome possibilities in others. I cannot say it enough... I'm just so grateful.    

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Accessability through social media & technology. Where's the balance?

When I'm in bed and unable to sleep, I usually pick up my phone and begin lurking around facebook. As a matter of fact, before logging into my blog page to write this entry, I went to facebook. Before that, I was in bed, looking at my phone because there were not 1 but 2 FB icons on my home screen giving me notices. It's become somewhat of a mindless addiction and means to receive all kinds of unnecessary information that is polluting my mind and taking up space that could and should otherwise be used in more productive ways.

The theme of the last few entries have been that of extreme change with an underlying tone of my feeling the deepest need ever to silence myself externally and to create more spaciousness internally. 

For a while I've thought about shutting off the email feature on my phone or going back to a basic, "old school" phone that's designed to use for talking and nothing else. I currently maintain not 1 but 3 different emails (4 if you count facebook email- don't get me started on that...) and while things are slowing down a little as I am transitioning out of teaching in preparation for becoming a mommy, it takes up space creating what Ayurveda calls "deranged Vata" energy. Vata energy is sort of "all over of the place" (think "windy" in the head) and the farthest from grounded. Being a woman of simplicity in many, many ways, I'm tempted to say fuck it and delete all of them just so that I can exhale...not so fast, Sanieh. 

The other day, I got a string of text messages from a number I didn't recognize only to realize it was from Andrew, the guy at the dealership where my husband and I inquired about a new vehicle. I hadn't responded to his voicemails in a timely fashion so he sent me a string of text messages asking me what package we were interested in etc. The assumption here is that we are all available in this way and it's probably safe to say that most are. I certainly have been although I've been conditioning myself not always feel the need to respond and certainly not immediately. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I actually had a voicemail message that stated the fact that I do not check my voicemail regularly nor do I return messages immediately unless there is a sense of urgency. It was my first step to creating space around a habit of being so readily available and reachable. Actually, it was my second attempt. Long before this, I had a similar outgoing message on my business email account. You get my drift though.

All of this to say...

I get that it's somewhat of what I like to call a "positive problem". I'm happy and grateful to have business communications and to be able to receive an abundance of information that the world-wide web offers and of course I'm so grateful to have friends who care about me and are interested in my well being and that of my growing family be it on facebook or email. I really am. But what concerns me is where my energy is going and where more of it should be going. 

I read something recently about how my generation is the first that will be technology driven / dependent parents. I find it both interesting and sad that we can go to a movie or to dinner and almost every single person is on their PDA. It's so not affirming to be with someone who is clearly somewhere else with someone else rather than with me, the person who is in front of them, in the flesh. And as a friend of mine once asked on his facebook page, "what did people do on the potty before PDAs?" Funny... but true.

I am feeling more present in my life than ever right now yet I feel a need for more. 

I feel a need to become more mindful of the things, thoughts, impressions I am filling my head with. So much of what we are receiving and storing in our consciousness is on a subconscious level. 

How can I be a teacher of presence to my child when I'm constantly being pulled out of the present moment and into someone else's life on and off, all day long or allowing myself to constantly be so readily available in so many?

How can I BE present to my child when I've got my phone attached to my hip checking emails and text messages all day long allowing myself to be so available which pulls me out of the here and now? 

So where's the balance in all of this? Where's the balance in being communicative where much of society comes to together while having a strong sense of groundedness in our own lives with our families and loved ones? Where's the balance of being a part of and receiving the many benefits that social media and technology has to offer us without being so readily available to the the world all of the time? Honestly, the only person I need or want to be THAT available to right now is my husband... and my child when he is born. That's it. I really have no need to keep myself so available all of the time. It's my opinion that the notion that I do is arrogant really. I don't know where this balance is but I'm growing desperate to find it. What I know for sure is that I need to turn off all notifications that come in through my phone and seriously limit myself to how much time I spend mindlessly lurking around social media sites. 

I love my friends and I am grateful for facebook in that it has allowed me to stay connected to some people and to reconnect and become friends with people who I might not have otherwise been connected to. I'm grateful for it, I'm just saying that it's served it's purpose. I'm also grateful for technology in geneeral. I'm just feeling like it occupies so much of my energy. 

So, lets talk. 

Give me a call. I'm OK with emailing. Just know that I am freeing myself of the sense of urgency/constant checking of it multiple times a day. And I can even be OK with occasional text messaging  for small, simple things but not for "conversations" and certainly not for anything of significance or importance. I'd honestly rather just talk.

I am SO guilty of all of these things and is my way of taking action to control the one aspect of it that I have the power to control and that's how I choose to use technology and to what extent which results in how available I allow myself to be. 

I honestly cannot tell you how many times I've looked at, checked or messed with my emails today or in any other given 24 hour period of time. Same thing with text messages although that might be a little less on the checking side of it... I do send them quicker than I check them. 

Deep breaths. Pulling more energy inward and minimizing the chaotic energy I'm responsible for creating and letting in around me. Small steps towards a deeper presence. That's all I want, really. I just want to be more present in the here now with those who are in front of me. 

And so it shall be...

Monday, March 19, 2012


Back in 2007, I took a vow of silence and entered into Goenka-ji's lineage of Vipassana Meditation. The course is a commitment. One takes a vow of silence in body, speech and mind for a solid 10 days, turning in all reading and writing materials as well as every piece of technology they might have shown up with. As if this were not intense enough, one also commits to cease, for the entire 10 days, any and all other forms of spiritual practice/prayer/meditation in all forms. While it's compatible, students are even asked to cease yoga asana, in an effort to still the mind and to be able to give full attention and full credit to the tradition of meditation at hand. Furthermore, one is asked to commit to the cessation of all physical forms of activity including but not limited to any and all exercise (walking is allowed) and all expressions of "self-pleasure".

It sounds militant perhaps but each person who shows up knows what is expected of them so the choice is theirs. A final commitment is asked on the evening post dinner, just before we "vow in" and make our first step into the mediation hall. The final commitment is that we do not, absolutely under no circumstances, leave the 10 day course in the middle of it for any reason. When I went, there were at least 2 people that I know of that couldn't handle it and were taken through a very slow exit process so that everyone was ensured that all mental, emotional and psychological windows that had opened up, could be properly "secured" before letting these individuals roam free in the world again.

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I would certainly say that one has to be in the right place and right frame of mind in their life to be able to commit to such a thing of course. More so, one needs to be willing and able to have a long, cold and very quiet look at themselves in the mirror. For this reason, there is somewhat of a screening to make sure people who are depressed or have any kind of mental disordered not attend. While the external circumstances are extremely quiet, meditating for eleven hours a day (Yes, eleven.), for 10 days straight, can seem pretty damn loud in one's thinker if you know I mean.

Since having attended and learned this particular style of meditation (we spent the first 3 days preparing for the meditation with a different one mind you) as it was intended in it's original form and lineage (there are other ones out there that claim to be the same but lack the around the clock complete vow of silence which dilutes the teachings at best according to their origin and Goenka-ji himself), I have sent a few student-friends who inquired to experience it themselves. Because of how the teachings are passed on, my interests are not in trying to share what I learned through such in depth time, study and of course, application of practice then and since then, but I will share a few morsels of what I picked up from that time that have a direct impact of my life, more so now than ever before.

Every evening there was a "teacher's discourse" where the facilitator, one of Goenka's long time students, would play recordings of his and his teachings for us to apply over the next 24 hours. Even so, there were few words, very little talking or even instruction and hours and hours of time to "practice".

I can still hear the sound of his voice as he would so smoothly repeat, "Anicca...Anicca...Changing...Changing..."

This made such an impact on me during the course that I tattooed a reminder on my wrist.

One of the many languages of the Buddha was Pali. The course, for the most part, is in Pali. Anicca translates as "changing" much like Anitya in Sanskrit translates as "impermanence". For me, Anicca is my life's reminder that it's all changing. Be present, right now. The time IS Now. Nothing stays the same forever. It's sort of the proverbial string around the finger when I think about it that is always there whispering "remember...".

So many things are changing in my life right now. I have feelings about them but mostly I'm more in the seat of observation that ever before. Something happens when there's a deep knowing that it's time for change and/or that it's necessary. As I enter into my last week of regularly schedule public classes (see the previous post) so that I can take some much needed personal time over the next few months, I know that never again will my life as I have known and experienced it be the same. While tendency can be to put meaning of "good" or "bad" to such a thing, it's nowhere on my radar to do so, but there IS reflection.

I moved back to Austin in 2007 with a fire under my butt to make this work. I was committed to teaching yoga and to do so for a living, to become debt-free and to be able to have and do the things I wanted in life-travel the world on behalf of my "job" in particular. As life would have it, I did just that. By many standards (most importantly, personal ones), I created, from nothing but a dedicated heart, a successful career for myself. As a teacher-friend of mine once said about the upside to what we do, I was able to "live a rich man's lifestyle in traveling the world, making my own schedule and calling the shots" for the most part. I came here to do something, worked hard and accomplished pretty much all that I set out to do. Over the years there were re-evaluations of what it was that I thought I wanted or what I thought was important but at the end of the day, what truly mattered was accomplished and anything I can think of that was not, was all egocentric and meaningless when it comes to down to it anyway.

Knowing this, I let go. 
I say "thank you". 
And I rest.

Reflection is required for me to take a few deep breaths so that over the next few months I can sit in front of the alter of possibility that is the blank canvas of my life. Pictures are already being painted on this canvas and they include my new husband and our new home we are about to close on and move into; the very home I intend to give birth to child in and the very home a family will grow roots in. The details have yet to be filled in just as the colors of my reinvention have yet to reveal themselves but all in good time.

It's all changing.

As a long time student of yoga and a student first and foremost long before and long after being a teacher, I am reminded that there is more.

As I enter into my third trimester of pregnancy and begin to quiet the external dialog and open doors that have remained unopened into the invisible landscape of all that's true and possible in the sea of the illusions of thoughts, self-definitions, labels, new inspirations and aspirations and so much more, there's a little bit of uncertainty but for the first time ever, I'm without a sense of clinging or attachment.

"Anicca. Anicca. Changing. Changing." 

Every part of me is in expansion right now...

It's all new each day. I had incredible energy in my second trimester and I feel the shifts as I find myself closer and closer to birthing this baby but more than anything else, I just want to stop the external dialog and use other, more creative ways to express what I'm processing right now. There is a relief and a deep sense accomplishment almost in honoring this instinctual desire to take some personal time, retain some of the energy that I'm so use to giving and slow down a little bit now.

I'm excited about motherhood.
I'm excited to see my husband become, and grow as, a father.
I'm excited about recreating myself.
I'm excited about re-evaluating what's important and I want/need to be the best ME for myself and my family.
I'm excited to show up to my gifts, talents and creative juices in a new form with new and growing inspirations.
I'm excited about new direction, inspiration and purpose.

I'm excited that it's all changing. I'm just deeply reflective right now and growing more and more quiet at time goes on...and that's a good thing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Love Letter to my student-friends


Since becoming pregnant, I had assumed I would teach up until the very end. Today is Monday, March 12th and I am 27 weeks and 2 days pregnant... and I now stand corrected on that self-made assumption.

Physically, I'm going pretty strong and have few discomforts and complaints.

While I definitely feel a big difference in energy and how my body feels today compared to how I felt during the heart of my second trimester, I'm doing well and am so grateful for having maintained this level of fitness through over a decade+ of yoga and 3+ years of CrossFit since long before becoming pregnant. It's helped me in so many ways throughout this pregnancy.

That said, so much has happened that I could not have expected nor planned for. I find myself telling my friends that this entire experience has been far more profound and so much deeper than one could ever imagine before actually being here in this place. About a month ago, there was a shift in the experience of this ever growing and changing body, seemingly overnight. And not too long after that, there was a definite energetic change that had me really wanting and needing to start pulling my energy back in for myself; desiring to speak less and become much more internal in an effort to quiet my mind in preparation for the many intense changes ahead.

For years, I felt defined as a yoga teacher. In truth, I was self-defined as such and it created a lot of pain and suffering for me. A few years ago, I began to explore the possibilities that I may very well be so much more than "just" a yoga teacher. I was determined to prove otherwise and began getting my feet wet as I danced with the unfamiliar and started exploring uncharted territory in the way of other abstract interests, aspirations, dreams and previously unidentified/unexercised gifts and talents. Today, I am so grateful for the work and self-inquiry I did during that time as I joyfully walk in the direction of making this transition out of the classroom and straight into answering the highest teaching calling of them all as I chant "YES!" the entire way.

While I am confident that this body could most definitely teach until the end as I had initially anticipated, I have decided to stop teaching my regular public classes as of the end of March.

The next few months are going to be an exciting time for my family. Beginning with our moving into our new home at the end of this month, then preparing the nursery for the arrival of our son shortly thereafter, followed by some much needed and welcomed personal time intended for grounding myself as I prepare to steep deeply in the yoga of motherhood.

My plans are continue strength training and practicing yoga as it continues to serve my body/mind/spirit extremely well through this beautiful (and often times, crazy) process and I most certainly intend to continue drawing inward while listening intently through a deepening meditation practice, re-exploring my music and doing more birth art.

I still have a few weekend offerings between now and my due date that I intend to fulfill (Nature willing :) and will continue to make myself available for a very limited number of private lessons. (My scheduled weekend workshops/expos can be found on the schedule page of my website.)

I am grateful and humbled for those who have supported my efforts in the Austin yoga community, nationally and abroad, those who continue to reach out and extend teaching invites, the studios who have stood by and have encouraged me to shine my light and undoubtedly, for those who have made ritual of our regular and ongoing practice together over the years.

Because my new focus will be shifted towards that of my family and my own student-ship, right now I have no idea as to if I will resume a "regular/weekly public class schedule" anytime soon. What I can share is that I have begun putting the intention out there to make myself available to continue teaching special offerings in the way of festivals, expos, retreats, teacher training and weekend workshops/clinics beginning sometime in the fall in some shape or form with an emphasis on a musical component + sharing it in the way of accompanying my yoga teacher-friends.

In Sanskrit there is a word, Anitya. In Pali, Anicca expresses the same meaning which translates as "changing" or "impermanence". As I sit in the unknown of what's ahead while feeling my creation kicking and swimming inside my beautifully round, full and expanding belly, what I trust is that It's all changing. I welcome the blessings, gifts and Grace that has been bestowed upon me and I look forward to riding the new waves of this wild and crazy-beautiful journey that is my life!

May we all be happy, peaceful and at ease.
May we all learn to recognize the Guru in its many, many forms.
May we remember to love the Light within ourselves as the all-inclusive love that it is rather than a dualistic notion as something outside of ourselves.
And may we always remember that this Light within ourselves is the very same Light that connects each and every one of us.

Infiniate blessings to you and yours,