The sound of the genuine

When I decided to take a break from writing for a bit, I didn't have a plan for when I'd be back. I'm a somewhat reformed Type A personality, so not having a plan is a big deal (amiright?). However, I did know that the time would present itself, that I'd feel a strong urge to share and write again with renewed purpose even if I wasn't sure when.

I feel it now. I felt it standing on a mountain in Colorado a few days ago. I felt it during a meditation so beautiful that I knew I was lit from within.

***

I'll be honest. My perspective has changed, my direction in business and life is changing. Let me reintroduce what Yoga Dear [Yoga Therapy] is really about, and who these letters are really for.

"There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine within yourself." - Howard Thurman


These letters, teachings, and this space known as Yoga Dear is for people who want to get down to real talk, real conversation, and meaningful connection, really quickly.

Eugene, Bodhi, and I hiking on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs

Eugene, Bodhi, and I hiking on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs

I have found that one of the reasons we have a hard time finding true connection, friendship, and deep relationships with others, especially into adulthood, is because we're not having the real and honest and sometimes tough conversations early on. We either say nothing or scroll through our phones. We judge viewpoints different than our own, rather than approach them with curiosity. We play it safe by talking about things like the weather, recent news/entertainment, and/or our children's daily habits, rather than looking into another's eyes, seeing them, and sharing truthfully...whatever that truth looks like in the moment and allowing them the ability to do the same. [Note: Conversations about the weather, news/entertainment, and children are welcome here AND I want to create space for self discovery].

But, this requires vulnerability. It requires vulnerability from the individual who is seeking a deeper relationship, a true connection. And, it requires vulnerability from the individual who is sitting across from her. Right? This is the way to find the genuine, to welcome it in all its messy glory.

***

These letters are words directly from the deepest part of my being to you. I am vulnerable. I am honest. I want to hear from you, to connect with you. I want you to feel connected to me and to those who read these messages, too.

I want to teach you more about who you already are, to help you uncover the most beautiful parts of yourself that may have collected dust or been shielded for far too long. I want these letters to spark inspirational, thoughtful, genuine and sometimes tough conversations with your Self and those around you.

I want to teach you about Yoga Therapy, and how it can provide for a life-changing healing process physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

I want to create community near and far. A community so strong and real that when you interact with me in one-on-one yoga therapy, come to a class, attend a retreat, sign up for a training, it's like we've known each other for years. I want you to feel like you're always learning something that you can directly apply to your life. A life that has the right to feel joyous, free, creative, and loving.

I sincerely hope this sounds like something you want to be a part of. I'll be writing to you regularly and I encourage you to write back (I respond to every message).

Over the next few weeks, I'm releasing a series to share how I found yoga therapy and why [ahem...anxiety which led to other forms of dis-ease]. I'll share what conditions it can support and how, and I'll share some of my favorite messages EVER that I've written recently about letting go, inner wisdom, and healing. I'm so glad you're here. I've missed you.

** If you're looking forward to receiving these letters, can you hit reply and send me a quick emoji? I'd love to hear from you. **

With love,
Leanne


P.S. If you've been a regular Yoga Dear reader, this series will be spread out over a few weeks. If you're a brand new reader, you'll have already started receiving very similar letters. And, if you're a new mother or expecting mother, please know that Yoga Dear Mama letters will resume soon, too. <3

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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The body is a gateway towards your healing

Hey there,

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to "heal" lately.

Does it happen just after a trauma? Is it reserved for specific physical circumstances? Does something "big" have to happen in order to validate the healing process? How do you heal the repetitive negative patterns going on in your mind? In your body? Can healing serve as preventative care?

What I do know about the healing process is that it takes TIME. Effort. And, it usually is helpful to have a support system in place. People like therapists, yoga therapists, a trusted friend, a partner, a parent, a doctor, an acupuncturist, a yoga teacher, a spiritual teacher, etc. can be tremendously helpful in facilitating and guiding your healing process.

Emphasis on guides. At some point, YOU have to learn how to listen as your body speaks. YOU have to do the work of learning to go within, slow down, ask yourself the right questions, get still, and listen for the answers.

And, this is in direct opposition to our culture. We often (though not always) want quick fixes and band-aids so that we can go back to “doing” at what we don’t even perceive to be warp speed, avoiding our pain and traumas, and by doing so we never actually heal. We never actually find wellness. We never actually get to the root causes of what made us unwell in the first place, and so the cycle will continue.

***

If I'm honest, I've really opened myself up to the possibilities of what healing is and what it can look like, especially during my training as a yoga therapist. For me, it often starts with the body. Movement has always been a way to connect with my highest self, source, the Divine, whatever you want to call it, and the most beneficial path for me has been yoga (up until 10 years ago, it was modern dance). Although my yoga lately doesn’t always look like the “yoga” you might see on Instagram and YouTube…

And, your variation of yoga doesn’t have to look like Instagram or YouTube either.

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You can practice Restorative Yoga, only doing five poses in an hour with the support of props like pillows, blocks, blankets, bolsters, and neck rolls to allow yourself to really relax. You can put on music and light a candle, roll out your mat, and simply move to the rhythm of your own heartbeat. You can use yoga therapy balls to roll out the fascia and tissue in the arches of your feet, IT bands, shoulders, the upper chest, hips and low back. You can choose a more vigorous practice followed by a 10 minute savasana.

Whatever you do, focus on your healing, rather than your “fitness” if healing is what you need. Focus on what is happening within your body from the inside out. How does it feel? Where is the tightness? Where do you contract? What are you holding on to or guarding? So much is stored in the body. Memories, pain, trauma. I'm learning to move it out and, through my own self study, how to help others move it out, too. But, this won’t happen in a day or even a week. Your healing will likely take time.

I’m still thinking and studying about the questions on healing from above, but I have a few thoughts to bring this full circle.

  1. Trauma is a word with a wide range of differences. What might be “trauma” to one individual may not be to another. And, because of this variability, some of us push aside our experiences as not a trauma, and healing doesn’t begin as early as it could.

  2. Healing isn’t only reserved for the physical body. Your feelings matter. Honoring them matters. And, often those emotions can affect our physical state of well-being. Healing your emotional layer is a recognition that you are NOT broken, but that you’re hitting some bumps along your journey and may need support to remind yourself of your wholeness.

  3. Experiencing our bodies and reconnecting with them is a gateway towards allowing ourselves to heal. Movement (but not always vigorously), breathing, and meditation combined with other modalities (talk therapy, acupuncture, seeing a doctor, getting into nature, etc.) can be wildly effective in your growth and well-being.

I imagine this is the first post of more to come on what it means to heal, and how we can begin to facilitate our own healing process. Try reconnecting with your body as a start. Gather a support system, but know that it’s only YOU who can really know what you need. Your body is a gateway to the answers that are buried within your being. And, it is already speaking to you. Know that this process is not a quick fix, but it’s more sustainable in the long run. Let’s begin our healing journey there. Yes?

With love,
Leanne

P.S. I’d love to hear how this resonates with you, especially as I continue down this path in yoga therapy. I look forward to sharing how we might work together in a yoga therapy capacity, working towards healing using a combination of movement and yoga postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and talking about whatever needs to come up in the moment. And, I’d love to answer your questions about yoga therapy, too.

Your relationship to your body

Note: This message may be a trigger for those dealing with body dysmorphia or eating disorders; however, it focuses less on that and more about true self-love.


Hey there,

There was a time I was seriously disconnected from my body.

My obsession with my body as a thing outside of “me” didn’t really begin until my mid-20’s. At that time, I had been dealing with chronic stomach pain and overwhelming anxiety. Eventually, I’d get a diagnosis of severe gluten intolerance, but not before I dealt with all the stress through extreme physical exercise and an obsession with “eating clean” (a term I now loathe…but, we can talk about that in a later letter). I’ve shared this before, but both practices affected my fertility and even more than that, they altered my relationship with myself.

When I started to find a healing path, I promised to give myself more grace and to celebrate my body throughout all its stages of life and giving life. It’s been a long road to get here, and I cannot say I look in the mirror every day and don’t find something to critique. But, I can say, after having a baby I truly am more comfortable being in my body than I ever have been before (at least in my adult life…I’m pretty sure my toddler self was in awe of her body). But, it’s not just because of the “having a baby,” but because of the relationship I started to develop with my body over the years. What is your relationship like with your body?

Image from #takebackpostpartum via @nazzie_ox on Instagram

Image from #takebackpostpartum via @nazzie_ox on Instagram

***

Yes, today is a day of romance and love [Happy Valentine’s Day!], but before you radiate that love outwards, can you focus on you? Consider:

What is your relationship to your body?
How do you talk to her?
How do you treat her?
Do you listen to her needs?
Do you know how?
Do believe it’s even important to listen?
What could you do TODAY to show love to your body?

***

Before finally conceiving, I remember realizing that my way towards wellness was to start to believe and embody that joy did not come from my physical looks or even abilities. They are not associated. I could choose to feel joy and happiness, even if I didn’t go for a five mile run, even if my body didn’t look the way I “wanted” it to. I started to find joy in other ways - more yoga (no hot yoga), more long walks, more slowing down to prepare a nutritious meal, more notes on my mirror that said things like “I love and approve of myself” (I’m serious), and really listening to what my body wanted on any given day (rather than what I thought I should do or had to do). I found joy in how my body could feel…and she could feel amazing, which in turn could create feelings of joy.

I promised to take care of myself the same way during pregnancy - to appreciate a growing baby, to move in ways that felt good (more prenatal yoga) + LOTS of walks - and later postpartum - to take my time to heal, practice deep breathing to connect and slowly rehab my core & pelvic floor, get outside, and to try not to judge my belly.

But, I’ve found that it’s really hard to come to this realization when we are disconnected from our bodies. Your body, your mind, and your soul are delicately intertwined and each is trying to talk to you all the time. But, are you listening? I think that’s the first question towards building a relationship: How can you listen to your body more? Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and ask that question. Note what comes up. And, based on the answer: How can you show your body you love her? Is it rest? More deep breathing and meditation? More warming soups? Getting outside? Patience?

Your body is a vessel meant to help you live out your work in this life (familial, professional, etc.), and we certainly want to treat it well. It is an undeniable part of you, but our bodies alone do not hold the key to contentment or love. So, maybe the next time you find yourself getting frustrated with her, you start to build the relationship: What does my body need in this moment? Am I listening? I can promise that with time this will be incredibly healing, and will help you establish more of a connection (and appreciation) with your Self [not a typo].

With love,
Leanne



P.S. This week I’ve been writing about listening to our bodies and also connecting with the deepest layer of ourselves (really our beings), too. You might also like reading this piece on your heart’s deepest desire.

P.P.S. Thank you to all who answered the Q’s from the last email! I will be responding to your tremendously helpful thoughts soon, and am excited for what’s to unfold next for Yoga Dear Mama.

Get the Yoga Dear Mama letters. <3

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I share encouraging, informative, and down to earth messages, each with a healthy dose of humor and honesty. Basically, the kind of thing I'd want to read during pregnancy and later postpartum...because gosh motherhood is confusing. When you subscribe, you'll receive my messages on What I wish I would've known before baby & a quick guide on the Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

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