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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Mama swing. Mama swing.

Hey there,

Snapped after a morning on the beach and…you guessed it…the swings.

Snapped after a morning on the beach and…you guessed it…the swings.

Bodhi is nearly two years old. And ever since the day he was born, he’s loved movement. I think for a good six months he was rarely put down (Eugene, would you agree?). Babywearing [we had three different baby carriers], rocking, bouncing, walking, swinging. He loved it all. Still does. Perhaps it was all that prenatal yoga and dancing with him in the womb.

Now, there’s a swing set near our house in Rhode Island that overlooks a park, boat house, and a marina with boats and ducks and geese. We literally walk there almost everyday and Bodhi runs to the swings. He’d be there for hours if he could. And, when he started to talk more, he’d point to the regular swing next to his infant one and say, “Mama swing. Mama swing.”

That started maybe four or five months ago. Him saying, “Mama swing. Mama swing.”

Amongst the chilly mornings, the fog, the days where I was so sad about moving that I could barely get myself out the door, we swang together. On the gorgeous days with the sun burning above and creating a mirror effect of the blue sky on the water, we swang.

On the days when Bodhi started having toddler temper tantrums and I was in the throes of figuring out what the heck to do next with my career and/or choose to stay home, we swang. On days where I felt like I would never stop crying, we swang.

And, you know what? After every single park visit, I’d walk home with just a little more buoyancy. It didn’t always last much longer than a few hours, but it was there. Feeling the air on my face and the lightness of being on that swing set brought out a reminder of the kind of joy that children burst with nearly every day. It brought a reminder that everything changes, especially as we watched the seasons change in that park from fall to winter to spring and now summer.

***

The other day, Eugene, Bodhi, and I spent a morning at the beach. After we came home, we decided to walk past the park to the ice cream shop. Bodhi asked to swing, so we made our stop. He climbs in to the infant seat. “Papa push you,” he says (meaning, Push me). “Mama swing.”

So, I swang. I leaned back and lifted my heart and eyes to the sky. I felt the breeze, felt the spaciousness, the aliveness of being, my hair whipping back and forth. I think I was smiling. I caught Eugene watching my moment, too.

My dearest friends, THIS is yoga in action. Not one yoga pose. Not one breathing technique. And, rather awareness of the way that I felt on that swing set next to my son. Yoga is the constant witness, the awakened awareness to what instills lightness, freedom, inner knowing, peace, and then making the time to recreate that experience again and again and again. That’s where healing can begin. Bodhi gets it. He always has. He’s my teacher in so many ways.

When we’re going through challenging times, yoga helps us open our hearts to self-compassion and to surrender. Yoga encourages us to ask for what we need, and to invite stillness to listen to the answer. I believe that when you ask for peace and healing and self-love, tools will be gently placed along your path, like Bodhi’s encouragement. My question to you is: Are you open to receiving these tools, even in their perceived “simplicity?” Look around you. Listen. The answers and guidance are there, sometimes in the form of a toddler.

I’d love to hear what has brought you closer to joy in some of your darkest times. Please write to me and share. Maybe, I’ll compile enough of them anonymously to share here. And, Happy Birthday to our Bodhi Bear. You’re forever teaching this mama how to love and be in this world.

With love,
Leanne



The thing isn't always the thing.

Hey there,

There was a time when I woke up every day with a racing heart and sweaty palms. EVERY DAY. For years. And, as so many of us do, I pushed through it. I got up, ran with my dog, took the metro into work, changed jobs, changed jobs again, started practicing yoga, moved (out of state)…a few times, and then really started getting into yoga.

And, then one day…it clicked. I didn’t feel free.

The racing heart and the sweaty palms weren’t something to stop or cover up. They were a signal. A symptom asking me to dig a little deeper and to get honest with myself. The thing wasn’t necessarily the thing. As I say in class, “Does this make sense?”

I was living a life of “should’s:”

  • I should have this wardrobe and wear my hair a certain way.

  • I should run and work out intensely and only do power yoga because that’s what counts.

  • I should only eat “clean” foods.

  • I should outperform at work, move up, and make way more money.

  • I should talk and speak a certain way.

  • I should never slow down or take breaks or show weakness.

That’s not freedom. That was [and sometimes still is] a bondage of my own making nestled into the inner workings of my mind. And, this sense of freedom, even if students don’t say it in class, is the number one reason I see so many seek out yoga. We long to feel free.

Because, innately and deep down we know that:

  • Waking up tired is not freedom.

  • Rolling out of bed with an already racing heart and short fuse is not freedom.

  • Feeling sluggish and constantly sore in our physical bodies is not freedom.

  • Rushing from task to task is not freedom.

  • Believing that we are a diagnosis is not freedom.

  • Feeling like we have to lift/run/whatever to get in a daily workout is not freedom.

  • Feeling insecure of our abilities is not freedom.

  • Living in constant fear or negativity is not freedom.

  • Doubting our deepest desires and dreams is not freedom.

  • Denying the divinity, beauty, and self-love within our hearts is not freedom.


***

When I started to recognize my patterns that kept me locked in a cycle of feeling like a hamster on a wheel (which I’ve heard a handful of times already this week), I started to ask better questions. The first being:

What makes you feel free?

And, I couldn’t answer it. I cried. I didn’t even know. You may not know.

***

What steadiness and ease can look like. If even for just a few moments…

What steadiness and ease can look like. If even for just a few moments…

There’s a Yoga Sutra that reads:

Sthira Sukham Asanam. —>> aka the Sanskrit

—>> Translation: The posture (yoga pose) should have steadiness and ease. And, through that steadiness and ease within the physical body, the natural comfort and joy of our being is discovered. How beautiful, yes?

Practicing yoga as a fully integrated path can help us get off the hamster wheel and open up our hearts and arms to all the freedom we seek. And, it can start with the poses. As you move through a yoga practice, does it feel easeful and steady? Can you breathe through the poses? Here is where we cultivate steadiness into our lives. We know we’ve gone too far in a yoga class when our breathing becomes short, tight, nonexistent, or when our faces are beet red. So, we back off. We come back to steadiness and ease. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a challenge to the practice, but rather we pay more attention and move with intention.

Sounds simple, right? That an entry point to freedom could be through the body? Indeed.

As we practice we start to unlock doors that have been sealed off for so long. Perhaps we start to recognize what it feels like to feel free. Perhaps we remember those pieces of our lives that bring us immense joy and love and that wonderful kind of laughter that makes us cry. But, we need to practice. I need to practice. You need to practice. Every. Day. And, I don’t necessarily mean for 60 minutes every time.

***

So, coming full circle…remember this: The thing isn’t always the thing. Your sweaty palms, your racing heart, your feelings of heaviness, your chronic low back pain, your overwhelming fatigue…the symptoms aren’t the end point. They aren’t something to be ignored. How can you pay more attention to what is happening within your body and your mind? What is it that you need? What is your body trying to tell you?

As always, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you. Is there a chronic condition you’re experiencing? Do you have a question about it? I can’t say I have all the answers, but I’ll certainly be a sounding board and maybe even a guide.

With so much love,
Leanne


P.S. If you’ve been following along with this series that has been introducing Yoga Therapy, please know how immensely grateful I am for you to be here. For years, I have sought to share yoga teachings that help to spark a curiosity of your own body and mind’s ability to heal. And, I truly want to support you on that journey. Please write to me if you’re curious about yoga therapy and have questions about how it may support you. I enjoy a good Whats App or Zoom date and would love to connect with you! I’m also dropping a testimonial here:

I came to private yoga therapy after a severe shoulder injury and surgery. What I gained in the sessions was much more.

I felt safe and secure in our time together, and gained important knowledge about my limitations and abilities
moving forward. Leanne has an inner balance and confidence that is part of her being. She understands the connection between the body, mind, and spirit of one’s self.

She helped me explore my post-injury balance on the yoga mat and also helped me discover some more personal things affecting me off of the mat. Leanne helped me to express parts of my grief, insecurity and struggles when the time was right for me. In the physical practice she gently encouraged me to be confident in stepping out of the familiar.

After our private sessions, I returned to community based practice with Leanne and her team at her former studio. Leanne leads with grace, and clarity of purpose across the board. I enjoyed what I was learning so much, that I decided to enroll in teacher training led by Leanne. It felt as if the process came full-circle.

In whatever capacity one works with Leanne, know the work will not be easy. Leanne will challenge you to explore things for yourself, to listen to yourself, and to trust yourself and sometimes that isn’t easy. I can truly say the work Leanne and I did together, changed me as a person and allowed me to see myself in a stronger, more compassionate light.
— N.