15 May

Summer Solstice Workshop in Kalamazoo

 

The solstice is a time of transition – from spring into summer, the season of flowering, growth, playfulness, and wonder. Join us for a Kundalini Yoga workshop designed to open your awareness to this new, fruitful season.

2017 Theme: Vibrate the Cosmos ~ The Cosmos Shall Clear The Path

Each year, the international Kundalini community focuses together on a theme for the summer solstice celebration. This year, we’ll work with Yogi Bhajan’s 5th Sutra for the Aquarian Age. “To vibrate with the Universe is to vibrate the higher frequencies of love, compassion, and kindness. One of the best ways to be in the flow of the Cosmos is through yoga, meditation, and chanting mantra—sacred sounds that attune you to the Universe.”

When: Saturday, June 17, 1:00pm-3:00pm

Where: Upaya Yoga Studio on the 2nd floor at Michigan Holistic Health, 500 West Crosstown Pkwy, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.

Cost: $25 general, $20 students with valid ID

Space is limited! PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED; please use the contact form to sign up.

This workshop is appropriate for all levels – more experienced practitioners may enjoy the chance to reconnect with the fundamentals of this transformative practice.*

Sat Nam, and Happy Solstice!

* Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. General information found on this website is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

16 Feb

Trying Something New: Kundalini Yoga and The Four-Fold Way

The Four-Fold Way

The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary, by Angeles Arrien, Ph.D.

Kundalini for Women: Friday evenings at 5:30pm, February 17, 2017 – March 24, 2017

Classes run in 6-week series, $60 for the complete series or $15 drop-in. Classes are held on the 2nd floor at Michigan Holistic Health, 500 West Crosstown Pkwy, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.

Like many of you, I typically do some written reflection and intention setting around the new year. I scaled back on my typical practice this past December in favor of more rest and meditation, but one piece that made it through the cuts was selecting a word of the year. In 2017, mine is authenticity.

Universal Laws for Communication

My own therapist introduced me to the work of Angeles Arrien a few months back, and in particular, the universal laws for communication that are explored in her book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary.  This text encompasses a larger vision than communication alone, exploring four archetypes that shamanic traditions have drawn on ‘in order to live in harmony and balance with our environment and with our own inner nature’ (p. 7). Arrien reminds us that the indigenous peoples have long worked with the natural rhythms of the earth to move through life processes and transitions, and that these tools remain available (and necessary) to us in our own industrialized society. For each archetype, she identifies key attributes and practices that we can use to more fully embody each role, finding balance in both our inner and outer lives.

The Warrior: Showing up and choosing to be present

The Healer: Pay attention to what has heart and meaning

The Visionary: Tell the truth without blame or judgment

The Teacher: Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome

As I worked with this little card of reminders, what arose for me was this theme of authenticity and being true to my own nature – which is actually something that connects really nicely with the practice of Kundalini Yoga.  Kundalini is the yoga of awareness – it is a practice that is designed to give you an experience of your soul. Yoga literally means union, connecting our finite selves with the infinite creative consciousness. I see that same thread in Arrien’s writing, connecting with these universal archetypes that reside within us all.

So it’s a little unorthodox to structure a Kundalini Yoga class series around an outside text like this, but I’m going with it. As those of you who practice Kundalini know, classes are always structured around a theme, which connects to the kriya and meditation. Kriya means action – it’s the postures, breath, and sound that are organized together to manifest a particular state. Typically, I’ll choose a larger theme from within the yogic lifestyle to select kriyas and meditations (the chakra system or the 10 bodies, for example) – but in this series for women, let’s try something new! Are you with me?

Kundalini for Women starts up again on February 17. Drop-ins are always welcome – though series passes give you the full 6-week experience, and save you a little cash. I hope you can join us!

15 Dec

A Simple Winter Practice

Misty Morning by Markus Trienke

I have written and reflected on the winter solstice and end-of-year rituals before, but this is the first time in many years that I have felt the true weight of this longest night. Outside my window, the snow is piled high, my back and hands sore from so many driveway shovelings already this season. At 4:30 in the afternoon, it’s time to close the blinds and turn on the Christmas lights, and there are gifts of handmade scarves and rice pouches that go in the microwave to keep me warm as I sit at the computer. Today, there were a few hours of glorious sunshine, the whole landscape glittering – but for the most part, it is cold and dark.

I’m grateful for these tangible reminders of the changing seasons – I have missed this. Some of us have an easier time of tuning in with the passage of time and the subtle shifts in the natural world; perhaps because I am, after all, a Midwestern girl, I need these louder announcements from the weather to truly feel connected.

While this time of year is often characterized by the high energy and festive pace of the holidays, it can be helpful to recognize the disconnect with the slow and quiet rhythm of the season. If you’re feeling out of sync, it may be more than just the eggnog. Though the chill has been in the air for many weeks now, winter is just beginning. This season of cold and darkness is made for rest, reflection, solitude. Can you allow that for yourself?

I have a script I follow for my end-of-year reflection, but even that feels daunting this December. I’m looking at simplifying. The moon was full on Tuesday night, and one of my favorite sources for lunar wisdom had this to say (among other things), something that spoke to me as a complete practice:

“… If we value peace, how do we embody that peace in our daily lives? Or if we value truth, or harmony, or any other higher-vibrational ideal – how do we become that quality as we decide how to proceed from here?…”

Perhaps this is all I need this year. Maybe I will scale back the writing practice, sleep in, do some meditating… contemplate the values that I seek to embody in 2017. Maybe that will be the simple meditation that works for you, as well.

09 Mar

Morning Practice

Last week, I wrote about my words for the year: practice and discipline. Today, I’d like to share some of the practices that have felt really grounding for me these past couple of months. Perhaps some of these actions will resonate for you, and if so, I’d invite you to give them a try! In a broader sense, though, I’d love for this to inspire creativity in your own life – to play around with your daily routine, and experiment with activities that support your own spiritual center. Let us know in the comments how this is working for you!

Home Altar

Most days, I start my practice at 5 AM. You don’t need to start that early. The yogic tradition that guides a lot of my spiritual practice prescribes a morning sadhana, ideally performed during the Amrit Vela, or ambrosial hours, between 4 AM and 7 AM. I’m not strict about this timing, but I do find the quiet of the early morning is more supportive for my meditation, and sets the tone for the rest of my day.

Many yogis and yoginis practice for 2.5 hours each morning – that’s not realistic for my lifestyle right now. Still, I try to incorporate breathwork, physical activity, and meditation into a set that’s doable for every day. Here’s what my routine looks like:

  1. Light a candle. This is a new habit I’ve acquired through my work at Hospice. Before working with clients in grief, I didn’t understand the meaning behind lighting candles as ritual. In this setting, I see this act as a way of honoring the space, marking out time for a specific purpose, and inviting light into the world.
  2. Tune in. As with any Kundalini yoga practice, I start with the Adi Mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, chanted three times.
  3.  Complete a (very) short yoga set. I use breath of fire for each 1-minute exercise, with a 45-second rest in between: stretch pose, nose-to-knees (while lying on my back), ego eradicator.
  4. Recite the Seven Whispers. I’ll be honest – this is where I start to get a little shy about the hippie-woo-woo of my routine. That’s okay! Creativity, people! I picked up this little book by Christina Baldwin a few months ago, and was surprised at how much power it held for me. I decided to try it out in my daily practice, and right now, I feel like this is the most important part of my morning. The words capture what I want to focus on and reinforce in my life, and reciting them in the affirmative each morning is a continual reminder of what’s meaningful to me. I sit in a cross-legged position, close my eyes, place my hands over my heart, and speak softly: I am maintaining peace of mind. I am moving at the pace of guidance. I am practicing certainty of purpose. I am surrendering to surprise. I am asking for what I need, and offering what I can. I am loving the folks in front of me. I am returning to the world.
  5. Meditate. I tend to be the queen of monkey mind, even at 5 in the morning, so I gravitate toward meditations with mantra. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been chanting the triple mantra recording from this album, a practice that helps me to feel like I’m aligning with the flow of the universe. At the end, I whisper a “sat nam” to close this part of the practice.
  6. Consult the oracle. Had you told me at the start of the year that I would be using oracle cards on a daily basis, I think I would have laughed in your face. But! I’m working through an amazing course on self-care for healing professionals right now, and it is opening me up to new ideas. So… I’m having fun with this one. If there’s time, I shuffle the deck, ask my inner wisdom to guide me to what I need for the day, and pick a card. I’m finding this to be a fun way to connect with aspects of my consciousness that aren’t always right there at the surface.

After that, I’m up, dressed, and out the door to get some fresh air with my dog. In total, the routine above probably takes me about 20 minutes – totally doable on a daily basis. And that’s key! Start small and manageable, and see what works for your day. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.