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 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.