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!

18 Feb

Khalsa Way in LA

Last month, I spent a week in LA studying prenatal yoga with Gurmukh. In recent years, I’ve made a practice of signing up for more intense yoga experiences in January, to re-ground myself in something that I know is vital to my own holistic health – the combination of full-time work and school, along with living in a place where Kundalini yoga isn’t as plentiful and convenient as in other cities I’ve called home, means its easier for me to “forget” to fill my own well. Like many of you, I see the new year as a good time to rebalance.

Golden Bridge Santa Monica

I’ve been wanting to write about my time there, but something has been holding me back. The nine days I spent in Los Angeles were truly transformative, and it was an incredible vacation for me – and my efforts to capture it perfectly on the page have kept me from writing anything at all.

I suppose one of the things I fear in writing about this publicly is that I think my idea of a good vacation is different from a lot of other people’s expectations. When I return from a trip, I tend to tell my friends and family all about it – fun, beautiful, challenging, strange, sad, annoying, exciting, hilarious… it’s all there. And it tends to catch me off guard when, later, these same friends and family will talk to me about that same trip, under the impression that I had a terrible time. That’s not generally the case. In fact, it’s the “bad” experiences that make travel worthwhile for me, probably as much as the “good” ones. For me, good travel involves seeing new parts of the world, and meeting challenges in a way that helps me see new parts of myself.

Spending the week in a sunny, spiritually alive, traffic-filled, sometimes-superficial city; staying with family who I love; building community with 30 female strangers (a third of whom were pregnant); being pushed to think critically about my own views on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccination, and what constitutes a healthy diet; rising at 5AM, wearing comfy clothes, and doing yoga every day – for me, these were all elements of a great vacation.

Santa Monica Pier 2


There were days when I felt angry and frustrated – both by the traffic, and by the content of our lectures. There were times when I felt inspired and truly loved. I made true, deep, fast friendships (and let’s be honest: there were people I didn’t like). I fell for the city of LA, and I can’t wait to get back. And I’m so grateful for the (too-little!) time I was able to spend with my family. Embracing that whole package is part of the experience. In fact, it is the experience.

This year, I chose this training because I felt a need to hold and nurture my feminine self. I knew that would be hard – healing and growth often are. And in the end, it was so worth it (healing and growth often are). Of course, I don’t know what the future holds, but I have a strong sense that my work as a therapist will focus on women and women’s issues, and spending this time in LA felt like a very important step toward that work. I came home refreshed and revitalized, and excited to share these teachings with women in all stages of life. I’m looking forward to what’s next on that path…

Khalsa Way 2014

07 Sep

Just a little yoga goodness

The September Aquarian Times newsletter from 3HO hit my inbox today and with it, a lot of good content, but it was this quote that made me want to share:

“You believe the woman is a doormat. I believe woman is the door to God. You believe woman is the chick and I believe she is the eagle. Her sway and her grace is keeping the Earth in its own place.”
~Yogi Bhajan, August 1, 1984
The newsletter also included a link to this video, which may prove a bit long for the average attention span, but I really enjoyed it.  If you can make it through about 1:25, you might be hooked (I was).  Thinking again about planning a trip to Solstice

14 Jan

Tomorrow’s Retreatshop with Rachel W. Cole

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Rachel Cole’s first Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop, right here in Austin, and I just can’t wait.  Rachel coached me through my biggest changes this year: leaving an unfulfilling job, taking time to rest and listen, developing my vision for Retreat Austin and my financial consulting work.  She held my hand, cheered me on, asked the tough questions, pushed me to consider options I hadn’t allowed myself to see.  Working with a life coach was an experiment for me – I hadn’t worked in that space before, and I didn’t know what I would be getting with Rachel.  I am so thankful for what I found.

I expect that tomorrow will be quite different from our coaching sessions, and I’m still contemplating my own intentions for the Retreatshop.  As part of the registration, Rachel asked, “What are you truly hungry for?”  My answer was “connection”, and that is true.  I wasn’t certain at first that the Retreatshop would be the right fit for me, given that Rachel and I had already spent so much time together, and in the end, it was the promise of communion with other like-minded women that convinced me to go ahead and sign up already.  Now, I can’t imagine not having this on my calendar tomorrow.  After all, how could I have considered skipping out on a retreat?

Still, I am wondering what the afternoon will bring.  Will there be connection?  Creativity?  Growth?  I’m trusting Rachel (and my gut) on this one.  I can’t wait to find out.

08 Jan

Some women who didn’t give up on writing today (unlike some people)

I am tired, and not drunk but a little tipsy, and still a wee bit grouchy from my Day of Yoga (it’s one of my teacher training weekends, perhaps I will say more about that on another day), so rather than bore you with my I-don’t-have-anything-interesting-to-write-about, perhaps I can direct you to some way better content, and we can both walk away winners.  Deal?

With that, here are my all-time favorite people on the web:

Andrea Scher (SO much inspiration)

Maggie Mason (I think she invented the internet.  Also, life list.)

AB Chao (Decorator extraordinaire, and the woman who said the thing about the bong water.  You decide what’s better.)

Kelly Rae Roberts (creativity and biz sense)

Brene Brown (… especially for the perfectionists out there.  Ahem.  Not that I’d know anything about that.)

Mimi Smartypants (Ha.  Hahahahahaha)

Jen Lee (A writing retreat with Jen almost two years ago just totally changed things for me.)

I hope that counts as a post.  Valuable?  (Ha.  Probably the most valuable thing I’ve written so far.)  Whew.  See you tomorrow.