Easeful is different than Easy

No longer. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

This is the first time in a long time where I do not feel the need to take immediate action on my dreams. Oh how I tried (#PittaAF), but my heart lately has helped me to discern emergence from forcing. It's let me know that I'm on the right path, even if it's wildly different than what I expected. And, I struggled with those expectations I set upon my own Self. I see that so clearly now. I’m sure you have strong expectations of yourself, too, yes? How does that really make you feel?

Dearest friends, I’ve started a new role. And, it’s not yoga necessarily. And, I cried at my desk and in the bathroom the first day and the second and the third - a) because I’ve gotten used to longer days with my baby and b) because this means surrendering some liberties I had before. But, it came so easefully, which is different than easily, and felt so right that I had to say yes.

I am now serving as the Development Director for Foster Forward, a wonderful organization with amazing people that serves youth, children, and families touched by foster care in Rhode Island. Did you know I had a former life in development // fundraising? Before Yoga Dear?

Courtesy of Jenna Honeycutt Calligraphy

Courtesy of Jenna Honeycutt Calligraphy

Here’s the thing. I adore yoga. You know this. I am dedicating my life to sharing the truths of yoga, particularly to nourish the feminine (this exists in men, too). But, I’ve heard this whisper that my work needs to reach beyond yoga studios. I wasn’t sure what that meant. To a degree, I’m still not. But, what I do know is that yoga has a branding problem. Yoga is not “fitness.” It is not fancy poses practiced in 100 degree temperatures. It’s purpose is not to make your tush look better (although that could happen). Yoga is the teaching of wholeness. Of recognizing our Divinity and our beauty and our gifts and our worthiness through a time honored and tested technology.

And, so I’ve started to pull away from certain settings. I’m starting to have these images and these dreams. I long for space where we learn + DISCUSS the essential elements of our practice - the ethics, history, meditation, subtle anatomy. I long to chant mantra and dance to live music. I long to teach people about how movement and yoga (inherently its philosophy) can nourish the body and the mind, and in turn heal the soul. I long to share ayurvedic ways of living + eating as a reflection of nature.

I long to utilize the teachings of yoga to help solve the world's greatest problems and connect with great thinkers. I long to help women uncover the wildness and sacredness of their femininity supported by real life community. I long to support play, imagination, respect.

***

No longer. Not yet.

In this moment, I’m choosing to honor the closing of a chapter and the seeds of creation for another. I’m not sure if the above vision is a physical place or a digital one. I’m not sure how often we meet (because, yes, I still want to teach you) - monthly, quarterly, yearly - or if it’s person or online or both. I’m not sure if anyone is even interested.

And, so when this new role came along (and met my negotiation to part-time work) I said yes. I said yes to emergence, rather than forcing an outcome based off of expectation. I said yes to a new challenge and the chance to bring my yoga practice into a field that I think will deeply benefit. I said yes to allow myself time to actually study, experiment and play with yoga education, and continue to work with the handful of beautiful souls I see every week for yoga therapy. I’m trusting what has felt easeful, undeniable, peaceful, sattvic, even with its challenges.

I write all of this to acknowledge your own spaces of in between, too. I know that you have your own places of no longer and not yet, and how hard it can be to allow for that. Rather than forcing, how can we step into the flow of our lives? Can we trust what feels like calm, steady energy even if it’s not what we envisioned for ourselves? What do you think? If you have a moment, please pass this message along to a friend who needs it…perhaps a friend who’s life feels uprooted or steered in a new direction. And, as always, I’d love to hear from you and how you are (I respond to EVERY comment and message.

Why yoga therapy?

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We often come to yoga for more than the movement. We're searching. We want relief from anxiety, depression, loss, overwhelm, pain. We crave purpose. Connection.

When you join, you'll receive regular down to earth and practical guidance to incorporate yoga therapy into your every day. Learn how yoga therapy can transform the way you live in your body, and ultimately your life.

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It's not in your head + you're not broken because of it.

How many of us have felt pushed to achieve? To be productive? To constantly create something of value? And, what does "value" even mean? How many of us have trouble with slowing down?  With allowing ourselves to just be? How often do we get swept up in climbing a ladder? Or keeping our homes picture perfect? Or getting paid more money? Or ensuring that our children are in the best after school programs - sports, music, art, therapy?

I'm raising my hand. If I had to guess, I would bet that at some point, you've been there, too (and maybe are right now). My question is: Why? My next question is: How does this pace of life make you feel? I invite you to really sit with this question, because some times we move so fast we miss it.

THIS is the root of many conditions that are running rampant through society right now: Anxiety. Overwhelm. Dis-ease. Maybe even depression and despair. I mean, how could anyone keep up with this pace? Note: This is not true in EVERY situation, but in many.

***

Two moments in stand out in my own life that really begged me for honesty and demanded I learn how to slow down. One, I've already shared with you as the time my health was suffering due to a breakneck pace of intense exercise, working hard and traveling a ton in former careers. Another, was when my family decided to move from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island, leaving behind a yoga studio I founded, dear friends that became family, a beautiful home, and the most charming little town.

I can remember when Eugene, the Yoga Dear hubby, told me he wanted to take a new job and move our family seven hours away from what had become home. I sobbed. I rolled out my mat. I journaled. I meditated. I got still. I listened. I'll never forget lying in savasana, tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling a warmth and a small voice offering that this move was the right next step. It was time to grow and expand in new directions. I have pinpricks of tears forming as I write this to you now.

Did that inner knowing make it any easier? It did not. In fact, in came uncertainty. This would become crippling at some moments even six months post-move. 
 

***

I mistakenly thought that growth and evolvement meant more creation, more doing, more productivity. I mistakenly thought I could siphon away pockets of time between taking care of my toddler and running a yoga studio from afar to create new programs, write even more, develop new revenue streams. That was all wrong.

What my heart needed more than ever before was SPACE. It took me nearly six months to arrive at that place. While I had intentionally left a fabulous job to follow a calling and open a yoga studio/business four years ago, disrupting the typical get a job, move up, make more money paradigm, I had still fallen into patterns. Patterns of doing, rather than stepping back to recognize what it is that my heart really longed for. Who do I want to serve? And, how? And, where? And, why? Can one of those answers be...me? Can I redirect yet again? How would that make me feel?

***

"Closed for Reclamation."

A yoga teacher shared these words. She said, that all over Colorado, beautiful hiking trails have these signs fixed at the front gates. A kinder way of saying: KEEP OUT. This sign is a reminder that these trails have been trodden on by so many, and that they need to grow wild again. They need space to grow lush and to expand into their wholeness. How beautifully yogic, yes?

Growth and evolvement doesn't have to mean "doing." In fact, it allows for more "being." Growth and change also beg for surrender. A letting go of the former ways to make space for the new. Surrender asks for stillness, for quiet, for inner inquiry.

In this way, not doing and not producing does not = unworthy. [read that again]

In fact, this allows YOU to grow wild again, to remember your inner child, to pull it forward, to surrender to your deepest dreams and desires. It's the ultimate path of healing. It's where I finally arrived after months and months of tears, sadness, overwhelm. What would happen if I let go? What would happen if I let myself grow wild again? What would happen if I closed for a bit of reclamation?

***

Moving slowly helps me to capture and LIVE IN moments like these. As parents, we’re doing our best to foster space, slow growth, stillness, and a little wildness in our toddler…

Moving slowly helps me to capture and LIVE IN moments like these. As parents, we’re doing our best to foster space, slow growth, stillness, and a little wildness in our toddler…

I want this for you. I want you to recognize that even in the goodness of your doing - the lives you get to change, the bellies you fill with delicious meals, the incredible work you are putting out into the world - patterns and habits can begin to set in that are not always helpful. In these patterns, we find ourselves on autopilot, in constant mental loops, moving through our days without our born right of enjoyment and enthusiasm.

And, then our bodies often start to tell us something's up. It could show up as a constant racing heart. Debilitating sadness. Impaired digestion. Insomnia. Panic attacks. Infertility. Rashes. I'm not saying your sadness isn't real, or that your pain isn't real, because it absolutely is. It's not in your head. And, you're not broken because of it.

So, let's start with asking the right questions. Are you doing so much that you don't allow for being? Do you feel that the answer to your overwhelm is more productivity? Or better delegation? Is that rubbing off on those around you (i.e. your kids, your partner)? What are your patterns? How does it make you feel? Is any of this serving you? What does your body think?

And...is it time to create space? To take one or two or three moments in your day to "Close for Reclamation?" What would that be like?

This is BY FAR one of the most powerful messages that has ever come through me to you.What is coming up for you as you're reading? What's one word to sum up the way you feel? Can you send it to me?
 
With love,
Leanne


Embrace the discomfort

Hey there,

After we moved to Rhode Island seven months ago, there were days when I could not stop sobbing (and if you’ve been reading these letters for a bit, you know how hard this move has been for me). Sure, I would find moments of joy staring out into Narragansett Bay and watching Bodhi throw seashells into the water. But, I was surprised to feel supreme sadness about the move. I didn’t feel like I was moving towards something, but rather away from so much that I loved in central Pennsylvania (and, wow, I never thought I would say that!).

I was scared that Bodhi would pick up on my emotions. So, I hid them. I would cry behind closed doors, shielding my tears from him and my husband until I couldn’t hide anymore and then would explode with sobbing all over again. I would try and validate how “great” this place is (the beaches! the food! New England!), which was actually invalidating where I was/am at right now, which is sometimes pretty sad. And, that’s not what I want my son to learn to do.

I want him to feel his emotions wherever he is.
I want him to know that feelings and emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.
I want him to know that he does not need to guard his feelings to protect those around him.
I want him to get curious with his feelings, to give them space.
I want him to know that even though he feels something, that doesn’t mean he IS that thing.

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

I’ve been getting curious with how I’m feeling as a result of this big move in my life, including the transition of selling/closing my studio to focus on yoga therapy (to support mamas and families like yours!). I’m learning to question when I stopped giving my emotions space for fear that those feelings would “harm” or make others feel uncomfortable. So now I say, feel what you feel. Write it down. Move it out of your body in a yoga practice or long walk. Talk about it with a friend or trusted therapist (talk, yoga, etc.). Meditate to get still and allow those feelings to show up. [Also side note: JUST because you are sad, that does not mean a) you are depressed or b) that you cannot also experience joy. However, if you think you may have depression, please see a trusted care provider].

And, at first that is SCARY. It’s scary to acknowledge where you are, especially if it’s a hard place. For example, if your birth was traumatic, then embrace where you are, what you feel. Try not to think, “but I’m healthy or my baby is healthy.” If you’re not sleeping at night, try not to say “but at least she’s nursing so well.” If you’re having a tough time in the transition to working motherhood and you ache for days with your child, don’t say “but at least I have a job.” It’s okay to sit with your emotions, even better to embrace the discomfort for a bit.

Why? First, experiencing a feeling in the moment is crucial towards actually finding your way back to a more peaceful place. Feel it now, rather than bottle it up and explode later. My very favorite acupuncturists, therapist, and yoga teacher all share this thought.

Second, when you validate your own feelings and emotions, you allow your baby or toddler to do the same. You let them cry when they need to, have tantrums when they need to, be held when they need to. They learn to embrace their emotions rather than label them as “good” or “bad.” And, babies and toddlers do this so naturally - Bodhi would wail for hours in my arms at night before finally sleeping. That was him processing his day the only way he knew how, and the crying wasn’t “bad.” He has tantrums when I don’t give into a “cereal cup,” which is a real treat in our house. He explodes with joy and yelling when he runs in circles outside. That’s fine. Feel it, move it out, embrace it all.

I realize that this letter is super deep, and could write so much more on the topic. In fact, I probably will because this process of leaning into feelings and seeing how they show up as emotions has largely informed my work so far in yoga therapy and sleep consulting. And, at first there is discomfort when something shows up that isn’t so shiny. It’s okay. You’re still okay. You’re still amazing.

I would love to hear your thoughts. First, take a moment to ask if you allow yourself to feel the whole range of emotions. What comes up there? What are you feeling right now? Second, how do you react to your baby or toddler’s stronger emotions? Does an emotion trigger something in you? What do you say? There is no right or wrong or judgement here, just continuing awareness. Promise.

How can you give your feelings and emotions some attention and curiosity? Is that uncomfortable? Write to me! I’d love to hear from you.

With love,
Leanne


P.S. I’ll be taking a pause for the next month to really honor the many recent happenings - leading a teacher training and its graduation, selling/closing the studio, and finally settling in a little more to Rhode Island (I’m not sure I’m embracing it yet, but I’ll give it a go wink wink). I also want to get clearer on how Yoga Dear Mama is shaping, informing, and growing, and I’m really excited to share that with you. There are so many thoughts up in my head begging to be jotted down and considered. Talk to you soon. <3