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Archive for the ‘Transition’ Category

Over the past few weeks here in Austin, we have been treated to the ostentatious grape scent of new mountain laurel blossoms and the slow-motion explosion of red bud trees. There is no mistaking that winter is over and rasa, the life-nurturing juice, is emerging in the earth again. While the return of moisture is certainly a relief for our gardens and our parched spirits here in drought-ridden central Texas, it also heralds a shift in the earth’s energy towards Kapha dosha. According to Ayurveda, spring is known to be the Kapha season: a marked difference from the dry, cold, Vata-aggravation typical of winter. The heaviness and moisture prevalent during spring can easily upset our body’s equilibrium.

With the surge of moisture evident in plants that are budding and leafing out again, many of us begin to experience symptoms related to an excess of these Kapha energies – increased phlegm in the sinuses and lungs, heaviness in the head, a sense of lethargy or stagnation, or mood swings towards depression. I found myself fighting a nasal-y head cold for the past few weeks and noticed sniffles and coughs around me everywhere I went.

The solution to these challenges, according to Ayurveda, is to seek influences opposite in quality from Kapha dosha, which is heavy, dull, oily and cool. Therefore, lightness, sharpness, dryness and warmth help to restore balance. One of the most powerful strategies to combat Kapha’s heaviness and phlegm is to eat foods that reduce Kapha. For a time, avoid heavy foods like cheese, yogurt, red meat, fried food, wheat and oats, as well as cold foods like ice cream – and really all sweets – or iced drinks.

Instead, choose warm and spicy foods to help liquefy Kapha that may be clogging the channels as mucus. Bitter greens and vibrant, energy-infused sprouts are the earth’s perfectly timed gifts at this time of year. Drink warm water with your meals, and keep active to prevent stagnation.

And when the clouds part, get outside! Soak up the sun’s vibrancy and breathe deeply – spring is the perfect time for movement. Kick your yoga practice up a notch or take a brisk walk through nature. Get your body moving, and your spirit will thank you. I am feeling called to get outside into Austin’s beautiful green belt of undeveloped land, this amazing strip of green that cuts by my future home (which, yes, is still in progress…).

For those of you who live nearby, mark your calendars for a free lecture I’m giving on March 30 titled, “Applying the Principles of Ayurveda in Daily Life,” at 7:00pm at the Yoga Yoga 360 Wellness Spa. Call 381-6464 to save your seat now – we had over 100 people register for the last talk I gave! I hope to see you there.

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Laxmi, the goddess of abundance and beauty

In February I enrolled in an online business mentoring program for yoga teachers designed around the many faces of the Divine Feminine. I had been looking for a “How to market your holistic health/yoga-like business” type of thing, something to inspire me and give me some tools – and as much as anything else, to give me some structure and hand-holding while I make some decisions. Every program I was finding, however, felt too slick, too much about “marketing” and not enough about “inspiring.” When I found this program, I realized of course the goddess herself is my perfect business guide.

Yoga here in the U.S. is practiced by an overwhelmingly female community. Something like 85-90% of yoga practitioners here are women, as are the majority of our yoga teachers. And yet, among the successful national teachers or high-visibility leaders in our yoga community, a much larger percentage are male. Interesting. The leader of the Divine Feminine mentoring program, Laura Cornell, speaks powerfully of her perception that many yoga teachers in the U.S. today actually feel quite disempowered. Although we are teaching methods to find freedom, empowerment and ease, many of us do not actually feel free, empowered and at ease, at least not in our businesses.

This is certainly true in my own circle – most of my yoga teacher/Ayurveda practitioner friends do not feel their businesses are thriving, or at least would not describe them as “abundant.” Many do not feel they are making enough money, or have taken on additional jobs in order to pay the bills. Many teach ten or more yoga classes per week and end up feeling burned out or drained. Hardly an inspiring example of empowerment. This contradiction has been in the back of my mind for years, and last month it came screeching to the front.

Our mentoring program is organized around the strengths of four particular goddesses as we explore business-building, sales, self-promotion and our personal power.  In the first unit, as we dove into identifying the types of students we most love to teach and the unique gifts we bring to that particular niche, we invoked Durga, the fierce, fearsome, poised warrior goddess. This particularly feminine form of conviction and service is embodied in the mother bear defending her cubs with unrelenting focus and passion. From Durga we can model impassioned commitment and the mobilization of our unique skills to serve our ideal students. (Saber-brandishing, anyone?)

As I listened to Laura speak in the first tele-class, a lightbulb went on over my head. I have been operating (unthinkingly) under the assumption that in order to build my business, I need to work harder, faster, MORE – a linear, rational, some might say masculine, model for expansion. This style of effort syncs up quite nicely with the Pitta strategy for progress that is my natural tendency (and periodic downfall!). I have been on the hunt for other models, models that recognize the cycles of Mother Nature, powered by fluid waves and circles. The path forward is actually rarely linear – sometimes it’s even a spiral, appearing to move backwards before spinning around the bend and catapulting ahead.

In the last week, as I’ve been inviting the goddess to hang out with me while I muse about my next steps, I have also felt a resurgence of acceptance – of myself, and of circumstances –  I am “already alright” just as I am right now, half-cooked, in the middle of everything. I don’t have to do more. In fact, as always, I must practice what I teach. Breathe. Rest. Go outside. Practice faith. It really is that simple. The presence of the Mother is divine guidance indeed.

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It has been quite the season of transition.

I am getting my feet nestled in the earth here in Austin, lining up my most important sources of nourishment for the winter ahead. It has been unsettling –  to be expected while establishing a new home base. Add in a few unexpected curve balls life has thrown my way, and suffice it to say, it’s been a wind-tossed Autumn.

The best advice I’ve gotten from one of my teachers about weathering this transition is, “Stabilize. Stabilize everything you can stabilize.” So I am working on fixing my routines and my practices. The irony I am finding is that, at this time when my life is unfettered by many of the external commitments that have in the past limited my ability to create a healthy routine, my current flexibility does not lend itself easily to internally-enforced structure. Again, not surprising, as any self-employed person can attest. It’s part of the life-long effort to pacify vata dosha amidst the turmoil of our information age. It requires tapas, the internal fire of self-discipline, to establish and stick to the routines I know serve my own sanity and joy. This trial by fire is working – it burns away illusions and makes me appreciate even more deeply the tools I have been taught.

My new (physical, literal) home continues its evolution alongside my own. With beautiful cedar siding now in place, it’s beginning to look a lot more like home. I shall not tempt fate by estimating a move-in date, but it is definitely moving closer.

A few weeks ago, the monarch butterflies were migrating through Texas on their 2,500 mile journey. I looked out my window one morning and saw a colorful scattering of them passing by. Their improbable, tenacious journey south on such papery wings gave me encouragement.

On this Veterans Day, as so many of our country’s soldiers, present and past, struggle with their own journey home, I hope for the day when we adequately honor their sacrifices by not creating more opportunities for more sacrifice. May there be peace in our time.

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