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?

20180722 111222 %281%29

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.

Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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?

20180722 111222 %281%29

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.

Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Prenatal Yoga is not the same as "Gentle Yoga"

Hey there,

When I share that one of my specialities is teaching prenatal yoga, a common reaction is that it must be super gentle, slow, and full of stretching. In 99% of situations, people think that prenatal yoga is more “restorative”//”gentle” and it certainly can be (and at the end of every practice it is), but it’s also building stamina and strength, teaching women how to work with and through sensation (i.e. preparing for contractions), and sometimes, there is sweat.

Birth is an incredible physical feat for the body, and in my opinion, prenatal yoga provides a safe space to strength the legs, engage and release the pelvic floor, strengthen the “right” abdominal muscles, etc. With that, do I advocate for high impact exercises during pregnancy? Or “heated” classes? Or constant up and down vigorous movement? No. No, I don’t (actually, my pelvic floor hurts just thinking about it). But, my favorite comment to hear after a prenatal yoga class is, “Wow, I feel strong, but calm” or “That was so uplifting and reminded me of my strength.” YAAAS.

While I’ve shared safe approaches to practicing yoga and movement in other posts, I thought I’d expand upon my philosophy towards teaching prenatal yoga here. If it resonates, I hope that you find a teacher, practice, or place that reflects the same philosophy. Note: We can work together, too, in person or via Zoom to help you feel confident and healthy in your body during pregnancy and postpartum.

My approach to sharing prenatal yoga:

  1. Our pregnant bodies are not broken, and want to move and feel strong (though this can vary day by day).

  2. Pregnancy demands different (and safe!) accommodations as our bodies grow, change, and adapt to support the life of another human being, and the wellbeing of you, the mother.

  3. What we do, how we move, how we breathe, and how we interact with our surroundings during pregnancy can affect our birth experiences, and the wellbeing of our bodies and minds during our postpartum experiences.

  4. The needs of a pregnant woman can vary throughout her pregnancy (morning sickness, fatigue, sore muscles, symphysis pubis, etc.), and a prenatal program meets her where she’s at on any given day.

  5. Building community and sharing knowledge helps women realize the choices they have during pregnancy and motherhood, alongside a supportive group of women.

Let’s break these down briefly, yes?

If you’re pregnant, your body is not broken or “less than.” Your body is beautiful and strong and maybe different than it was (or different than other bodies around you), and this is something to work with. Regular movement, and especially a prenatal practice, will help strengthen the physical body, while also finding proper stretching to open the hips, shoulders, and relieve tension that might accumulate in the back. It’s okay to feel strong as you practice. It’s not okay to feel light headed or to overheat or feel too much pressure on the pelvic floor. A knowledgeable teacher will know the balance.

Art by @yogaprints

Art by @yogaprints

With that, there are accommodations to be made as you step into or continue a yoga practice. There is such a thing as “over-stretching” during pregnancy (the hormone relaxin makes your body more flexible). We do not want to put pressure on the abdominal wall (the belly) or strengthen the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscles), but working with the obliques and the transverse abdominals is very helpful for birth and beyond. Further, by practicing safe shoulder and chest openers, twists, forward bends, and strengthening postures, we’re working with the soft tissues of the body, finding more ease as we move throughout our everyday and hopefully allowing our bodies to get into the right positions to deliver our babies. Emphasis on “safe” and proper modifications for these postures, because they do look different during pregnancy.

Finally, I firmly believe that what we do during pregnancy can affect our birth and postpartum experiences, both physically and mentally. Practicing yoga is known to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system - the “rest and digest” state, which is necessary to birth our babies. We want to feel calm, grounded, safe, supported. We don’t want to feel constant fear, anxiety, worry, and/or stress. Yoga equips us with not only physical movement, but breathing techniques and meditation practices that help us acknowledge and work with challenging emotions during pregnancy, birth, and during our transition to new motherhood.

It is my aim to support women as they transition into motherhood through pregnancy, birth, and during the postpartum experience, too. As a student and practitioner of yoga therapy, I use the physical body as a portal to wellness, while honoring where women are at mentally and emotionally. And, I’d love to work with you. I’ll be sharing more about yoga therapy services soon. Above all, please move your body is way that honors your pregnancy (and feels good!), find teachers you trust, and communities who will support you.

With love,
Leanne

P.S. While I periodically teach group Prenatal Yoga classes now in Rhode Island, I’m exploring new ways of supporting women during pregnancy. I’m especially interested in a yoga therapy approach, using the movement as a gateway to wellbeing, while honoring where emotions, too. How would you like to work together moving forward? Have you seen a specialist to support your movement and wellbeing during pregnancy specifically? I’d love to hear from you. With <3.