I Am A Living, Breathing, Sensual Being!!!

Ah, finally, a little warm weather has arrived.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining and best of all, the snow is melting!!!  It’s been a long, cold winter, but the earth is beginning to show signs that it’s ready to transform.

Winter, for many can be a time of deep reflection, a turning inward much the same way perrenials go dormant in the Earth until Spring signals it’s time to emerge.  This Winter has been no different, and as Spring starts to unfurl her limbs, I feel the same awakening with better awareness of myself as I move into a season that evokes a wild aliveness.

You may or may not know what I mean by that, but if you have ever experienced the sensation of giddy anticipation, the heart pounding excitement and heightened sensuality that seems to happen as soon as the Earth wakes from her slumber, then you understand that wild aliveness that I speak of.  We are animals, too.  Our primal selves still exist deep within us despite our civilized conditioning.  As such, we are not immune to the rhythms of our Earth.

Regardless of the standards civilized society places on us for how we are expected to behave, we can not escape the simple fact that we are still aminals with a very feral and sensual side to us that begs to be indulged through our various creative outlets, both physical and intellectual.  Physical outlets could include dance, yoga, exercise, sex, etc.  Intellectual sensuality usually appears as either written, spoken or sung words and well as art such as photography, drawing, painting and sculpting.  Even just being in nature can be the creative outlet that satiates a primal desire to connect in the most simple way.  Poetry and yoga are my outlets as the seduction of Spring unfolds.  Afterall, Spring is a time of creation…..it’s mating season.  Life is created among animals and plants.  We can either ignore our need to create things for ourselves during this time and get stirr-crazy frustrated………or we can surrender to it and allow ourselves to be the wonderfully creative, sensual beings we naturally are.

Nature is a force that can not be fought unless you prefer pain and struggle.  Can you acquiesce to the natural rhythms of not only your body, but your spirit?  Can you allow yourself to be a living, breathing, sensual being that creates from a place of honesty about who you really are on the inside? Can you surrender to the wildness within and feel free to express your innate desires?

To your wild side!

Namaste!

Kristen

Photo Courtesy of Burning Man.  Where the Wild Things go to play.

Photo Courtesy of Burning Man. Where the Wild Things go to play.

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….And the greatest of these is love.

“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.”

No matter the what form it takes or how long it lasts, there is no greater gift than love.  Give all your best to those you love because to hold back deprives the world and ourselves of the experience of love.  And let’s face it, we could all use more love.  It can be scary to speak those words for fear that the feeling won’t be reciprocated, but love is meant to be given regardless of whether you receive it back.  If nothing else, letting another person know you love them will brighten their day simply by knowing they are loved and appreciated.  There is no better time to tell someone they are loved than when you feel the impulse to do so.

It costs nothing and yet is priceless and is undoubtedly the greatest gift anyone can receive.  So, love fiercely, love openly, love passionately, love honestly!  It does not matter how long it lasts; what matters is that you loved.

Namaste!

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Love Out-Loud!!!!

I’m a lover. I flirt shamelessly. My husband laughs at me when he catches it. I believe everyone deserves to know they are loved and feel loved. Why keep something so beautiful all to yourself?

For me, saying ‘I love you’ to another person was always something I had to wait to do….and it was only reserved for those I had serious, romantic intentions towards. The anxious waiting and wondering if the other person felt the same. Rehearsing in my head the proper moment to make my grand exclamation. Mind you, I never waited for them to say it first….I was always the first one to say it…..and honestly, being a very open hearted person to begin with, it never took me very long to fall in love. But I would hold back, fearful that I would scare off this promising catch if I made my declaration too soon. It was agonizing and yet living on that anxious edge for several weeks, climbing the walls with a combination of dread and butterflies was such a high.

When I developed a yoga practice and found a group of women I had a strong connection with, I felt many of those same feelings toward my fellow yogis, but without the sexual tension, of course. I would feel compelled and free to say ‘I love you’ to certain female friends and they reciprocated in kind and it was, and still is, genuine. These women have become loving soul sisters that I can’t imagine my life without.

Now, as a married woman I have only a couple male friends outside of my husband for whom saying ‘I love you’ to is completely safe. There’s no agenda. It’s very tricky to skirt the edge of genuine friendship and profound fondness for someone of the opposite sex without giving them the wrong idea especially when we are just starting out getting to know each other. Again, it doesn’t help that I’m a very open and flirtatious person, but I flirt with my female soul sisters as well. I know it’s not the same thing, but the fact is…I love out-loud!!! I am pretty shameless about my expression. There’s this excitement when two people really ‘see’ each other and are in sync on so many levels. There’s this sense of kinship and almost cosmic connection….as if we were meant to know each other and be connected on some level.

But let’s keep things in perspective….all new relationships begin this way. We find ourselves intrigued by a person for either physical, emotional or intellectual reasons and as we get to know each other, we follow the trail of breadcrumbs that lead us down the winding path. Maybe this leads to romantic love….maybe it remains as platonic love. Either way, with an honest connection, love develops on some level. Whether it’s merely a compassionate bond brought about by challenging circumstances, a mutual understanding and respect of each other or a love born from that initial lustful attraction that becomes so much more…..when you feel it, you should feel at liberty to say it. Love out-loud!!!

In today’s society, we are so competitive with each other for power, wealth, status, mates, jobs, friends and attention. This kind of competition breeds separation and thwarts the basic human need for connection that we should all be at liberty to experience and yet don’t because we are more concerned with protecting what we perceive as ours. Fear keeps us apart and is the polar opposite to love. Vulnerability is perceived as weakness, so we always have our guard up. We judge others without realizing that they are mirrors reflecting back that which we haven’t accepted in ourselves and are afraid to confront because it makes us vulnerable. When we learn to accept ourselves just as we are, judgement falls away, competition becomes pointless and we have the capacity to really see others and allow their unique and radiant spirit to shine. It’s in this recognition of others that our capacity for unconditional love becomes possible.

As we go about our days, we cross paths with so many people, but do we allow ourselves to really ‘see’ them? If not, why? Is it that the ‘seeing’ conjures up the pieces of ourselves that we haven’t yet accepted? What is the nature of the discomfort if any? Are we simply too distracted to care or notice others around us? What is stopping us from honoring all who we come in contact with every day of our lives? Can we allow for the space and vulnerability to explore the blocks that keep us from loving out-loud?

So many questions worthy of honest inquiry to help open us up to each other and deepen our connection with each other. We each have that radiant spirit dwelling within us that just wants to come out and embrace the whole world. Love is our true nature and it’s meant to be shared.

I see you, I honor you, I love you!

Namaste!

Kristen

Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

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As head teacher of a new yoga studio, it’s pretty important to me that both myself and my employees have the tools necessary to do their job to the best of their ability.  For the past three weeks, every Monday has been inundated by snow or ice and school for my children has been closed and yoga classes have had to be cancelled.  During this same three weeks, the business owners of the yoga studio have been trying to get a training done to help with social media output, but we have had to cancel every time.

Today is the third Monday in a row where school has been cancelled, training has been cancelled and morning classes at the studio have been cancelled.  It’s frustrating when this happens, because as a new studio, we are trying to get the word out that we are in the community, but if we have to cancel classes and on top of that, not learning how to maximize our reach via social media, our success hangs in the balance.

My studio manager who is so dedicated to the success of the operation is exasperated…..and I almost feel bad that I’m so laid back and not more concerned about the situation.  But why is that?  Am I just lazy?  Do I care less than she does?  Absolutely not.  I’m just as invested, if not more, in the success of the operation as she is.  Then it dawned on me…..I’ve learned to accept that when the time is right, things will happen.

It’s clear that the Universe has a plan and it’s pointless to fight it, so I choose to surrender to the divine plan that’s in store.  A friend of mine reminded me recently that, “You can’t fight the forces of nature. They are overpowering…..so it is better to submit to their forces.”

If you fight against nature, it creates struggle, but to allow yourself to be carried by the natural flow and order of things keeps things moving as they are meant to.  When  you surrender to the natural order of things and trust that everything is as it should be and let go, life opens and things happen.

Ishvara Pranidhana, in it’s most simple definition, means to surrender to God.  When we surrender to the will of the Universe…or God…you choose, it’s like making sure you keep a stream from becoming impeded by debris.  When you try to control the outcome of every little detail in life, you become like the beaver who creates a dam and essentially shuts off the natural flow of water.   Thus, stopping the natural flow of life.  The constant striving and trying to control things can also be assimilated to swimming against the current as opposed to with it.  Struggle creates stress which can create unfavorable health conditions.

Can you allow yourself to let go and let be what is meant to be?  Allow life to unfold as it’s meant to? Can you surrender to something that has your highest good in mind and know that regardless of the outcome, it’s always for your highest good?

To your highest good!

Namaste!

Kristen

On Yoga and Being a Mother

I love being a mom. Of all of the joys, jobs, challenges and experiences of my life, being a mother is the most significant. I have never imagined feeling so much love for another human being, or being so protective. It is a sense of being that circumvents anything that the brain could create. But, no matter how much of my vulnerability and compassion I offer to this role, it is also the place in which I judge myself most harshly.

The yoga sutra 1.2 Yogah Chitti Vritti Nirodahah, translates as ‘Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.’ Nischala Joy Devi says in THE SECRET POWER OF YOGA, Three River Press, ‘Chit is the ocean of consciousness, vast and unlimited. At birth each of us gathers a small quantity of this vastness and encases it in our heart as chitta, individual consciousness.” Just as we gather a small quantity of universal consciousness into our heart, we also gather and carry a quantity of genetic and emotional history from both of our parents in our bodies.

If we accept that consciousness abides in the heart, not in the mind, then our relationship with our children gives us a direct experience with this awareness. With our children it is as if there is some intrinsic recognition of oneness that asks us to be awake and recognize not only our separateness but also our connection. How many times do we see ourselves in our children and feel like we know them from the inside out – from their heart? Or maybe we remember our own parents in ourselves – hear our voice and words and suddenly become very aware of where these beliefs originated, giving us more information about our selves and this intense human experience.

We all have an expectation that our children will not be hurt or find disappointment when they take risks. We want our children to be loved, to be accepted, safe, happy and healthy.   We also want them to be a positive reflection of us, or maybe we even place onto them the dreams that we never fulfilled. But, ultimately we have only so much control over our children’s experience. They come with their unique personalities, strengths, weaknesses, talents, and dare I say it – their own Karma!

So, by judging myself as a parent I am really judging my own inability to control everything. I am forgetting my connection to Chit – the universal consciousness. My yoga practice teaches me daily to remember my connection and to surrender (svadhyaya) into what is. At some point we as parents must just let go and let be. This can be a real challenge for all of us living in this fast and intense results oriented society. And this is where the yoga happens. – In what way do we recognize our union, but also allow ourselves to let go? How do we skillfully navigate our relationship with our children and teach them to be skillful in their relationship with themselves?

Maybe the answer lies in our being present with what is, in giving our children the gift of our full attention – an attention that sees them with clarity, acceptance and love. We all look at the world through a lens tinted by our own life experiences, but our yoga practice can help us to lighten the shade of that lens so that we can really be present for our children.

Hopefully our children will be happy and love, but they will also have their heart broken and fail at things – and most likely the best lessons they will learn will come from the times they did not succeed. I would like to think that if they are making decisions and choices from a place of truth within them selves they will be more resilient. Recognizing this place of truth, their essence, begins in being able to recognize their connection to something bigger. Isn’t the most important thing that they have in their consciousness memories and feelings of being connected and loved?

I remember seeing an interview with Maya Angelou long before I had children that really stuck with me. She was asked what the greatest gift she could give her son was and she answered….(and I paraphrase because it has been many years) – ‘when he walks into a room and I look at him, I look with love in my eyes, no judgment, just love and acceptance.’

May we all accept our selves and our children with this same love and compassion and see the world through these same eyes.

Namaste!

Michelle

As on your mat, so in your life!!!

Sound familiar?  This saying has been adapted from “As above, so below” or “As within, so without.”  Each speaks to the world or life experience we create for ourselves from the inside out whether unconsciously or consciously.  More often than not, however, we are creating unconsciously that which we experience.  Much of it is a result of our knee-jerk reactions to life, which have been conditioned into habits that we may not even think about.

If you have ever read the book or the seen the movie The Secret, you understand that repetitive thought patterns create our reality.  This is a Universal law, like gravity.  If you obsess over something long enough, you will bring it into your life.  It’s all about energy….and energy is what we are made of.  The energy we send out is exactly what we get back in the form of both experiences and the people who show up in our life.  I have experienced first hand having both positive and negative things happen to me in my life as a result of repetitive thought patterns.  Let me tell you, I learned my lesson about entertaining negative thoughts for too long.  Not fun.

I like to think of a yoga practice as our playground for life.  In a yoga practice you experience moments of frustration, distraction and impatience as well as accomplishment, strength and utter bliss.  All the things we also experience in life.  As we engage in a yoga practice on our mat, we become aware of our reactions to the fluctuations in practice; good and bad.  And if we really pay attention, we notice that we also react the same way off our mat, out in the real world.

If you practice yoga, the next time you are on your mat, just notice how you are showing up.  Are you calm and happy and able to stay present or are you anxious and distracted and unable to stay present?  I have had stretches where my practice and being present were effortless and life holds magic around every turn. Gratitude, joy and positive people and experiences abound on and off the mat!  Then I have periods of time where my mind is everywhere else but on my mat.  I’m angry, stressed out and anxious.  When that happens, I’m slogging through and stressed out and surrounded by people who are much the same.  My energy feels taxed.

Simply put, if you are able to be present on your mat, you are present and aware in your life.  If you are distracted, anxious, angry, etc….guess what….that’s how how you show up in life.  Same goes for how you talk to yourself when you get on your mat.  Ever fall out of a pose or compare yourself to another yogi in the room and get all competitive….ON YOUR MAT?  Guess what?  You are probably pretty competitive off the mat as well which brings more of that energy into you life.

With the mat as our playground, we can learn to temper the reactions that don’t serve us and learn to be more aware of how we move through the world.  Our yoga mat is a safe place to explore our reactions and our emotions as it pertains to the challenges and joys of life.  It’s a place where we can experiment with making good choices for ourselves that only serve our highest good.  In doing so, we begin to shift our energy from one that leaves us feeling depleted to one that brings us peace, serenity and acceptance.

Exercise:

Take stock of your life as it is in this moment.  The emotions, the people, experiences and current circumstances.  Reflect on all of it and then take a moment and ask yourself how you really feel.  Be honest with yourself.  What is the underlying emotion you feel consistently?  If you feel predominantly anxious, angry, frustrated and not empowered, you will be attracting more of that into your life.  If you are content, happy and satisfied, that is what you are bringing into your life.  Stay aware of the fluctuations and if it’s not serving your highest good, it might be a good idea to explore what needs to happen in order to change that.

To your highest good!

Namaste!

Kristen

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www.kure-spa.com

New Year’s Resolutions – The Secret To Keeping Them

Over the years, I have been notoriously bad at keeping New Year’s resolutions to the point that I just stopped making them.  I mean who really wants to put that kind of pressure on themselves??  Am I right?  One year I made so many resolutions that I overwhelmed myself and fell into a serious funk because I set myself up to fail.

Since that time, yoga has become a big part of my existence and has changed my perspective on how to approach resolutions.  Sankalpa!  Often used in Yoga Nidra, sankalpa helps create a clear line of sight in the direction of your deepest desires and helps you get clear on your intentions.

Definition:

Sankalpa: Thought, intention, or will directed toward a specific outcome.

Sounds a lot like resolutions, right?  It’s easy to think they are the same, but Sankalpa has a more minful approach to how we acheive our goals.  It’s this apporach that makes the difference between whether we keep our resolutions or abandon them altogether.

First things first:

Take some time to sit alone to reflect on where you’ve been(your past) and where you are going(your future).  Make a list of the areas of your life you want to improve.  What are your goals?  How do you want to feel?  Write it down.

Next:

Decide which ONE goal is most important to you.  Formulate one sentence that encapsulates that one goal of where you want to be. There can only be ONE sankalpa.  Let’s go for quality over quantity and having a single focus is key.  One sankalpa ensures that you have a single point of focus that warrants your full attention….unlike having several resolutions where it is difficult to give each one the same amount of attention….resulting is the chance for failure in one or more areas.

Now, to create your sankalpa, don’t just ask for WHAT you want to acheive, ask WHY you want to acheive it.  Simply saying, “I want a better job so I can make more money.” is very surface.  What’s beneath that at the root of what a better job can do for you?  How will it make you feel if you had that better job?  Maybe you might feel more confident, secure, valued.  By getting to the roots of why you want to acheive the goal of making more money and incorporating those things into your sankalpa may create a result that was greater than the original goal by inspiring you to branch out into your community, family and affirm the relationship with yourself.

Wording:

Your sankalpa is above all an affirmation!!!  How you word it is crucial to creating the correct energetic vibration to send out into the Universe.  Your sankalpa should be short, about you and only you, stated in a positive way and in the present tense.  If you think about how you speak to yourself or others in a very general, everyday basis, you may find that much of your language can take on a negative slant.  Whether it’s benign complaints or using words like, not, don’t, can’t, etc., we unconsciously create a world that perhaps isn’t serving our highest good.  Even the subject matter we choose to focus our energy on, even when we mean well, can create a contradictory experience from the one we were hoping for.  For example, you could phrase your sankalpa, “I am free from addiction.” if your goal is to stop smoking, but the emphasis is on addiction which is negative in nature.  So getting to the root of WHY the addiction existsin the first place is key to freeing yourself up for a healthier life.

The two most powerful words in our language are “I am”, so whatever follows that is creating your future.  Think about it.  Whenever you say, “I am tired.”, you are affirming that very thing and the Universe delivers that to you and you begin to yawn.  We underestimate the power of our words, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to not only our words, but our thoughts as well.

When we create our sankalpa, we also must make it only about ourselves.  We are the only people who’s lives we have control over.  So your sankalpa cannot be used to try and change another person.  Be sure to use words like “I” or “my” in your wording.

State your sankalpa in the present tense.  If you state it in the future, it will always be in the future and never come to fruition.  Here’s a few examples….”I enjoy perfect health.”, “I am at peace with myself.”, “I am secure in myself.”, ” I trust that my Higher Seflf fulfills all my needs.”  Each of these statements is a short, personal, positive affirmation in the present tense.  Also, they get at the root of WHY most bad habits or destructive behaviors exist or persist in the first place.  Most people have a difficult time being at peace with themselves, so by affirming, “I am at peace with myself.” is a powerful and universal sankalpa that can be used by anyone.

The practice of creating a sankalpa is one you can do at the beginning of every yoga practice. Simply stating,”I am at peace with myself.” helps you meet yourself where you are in that moment with love and acceptance and opens the vibrational gateway to more peace`in the future.

Happy, Healthy and Harmonious New Year!

Kristen

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