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.

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


Letting go {and other lessons}

Dearest yoga friends,

After many, many months (even before our move to Rhode Island), I have felt the pull towards a new path for me and for my family. And, I'm finally surrendering. I have made the decision to transition out of studio ownership at Yoga Dear. I could share the many reasons, but simply it's time.

As I type with slightly trembling fingers, I realize that some of you reading may never have stepped foot into the central PA studio and that, for others, this space has been a deeply healing and community filled spaceHowever you are connected with Yoga Dear or Yoga Dear Mama, I hope you will read this post. I wish I could tell each and every one of you this in person.

***

Trusting my intuition and opening the Yoga Dear studio was one of the best choices I have EVER made. It was scary. I had never taken one class in business. It didn't logically make sense to leave my career at the time. However, I felt like I just had to build a dynamic, supportive yoga community in central Pennsylvania. I felt the calling to teach and share and learn and grow with fellow yoga students, some who are now teachers themselves. I hoped to facilitate the growth and healing of a handful of students, that then became hundreds. I wanted to look back on my life and know that I had tried. And, together, we've created something beautiful.

And, now it's time to let go. For a few months now, I have explored selling the studio portion of Yoga Dear, and believe the next studio owner may be out there. In the event a sale is not made or a buyer not identified, we will be closing the studio on April 30, 2019. Read more in the "P.P.S." below for how this might affect your membership.

Of course, I hope you're reading this so that you are aware of the state of the studio (especially if you're an in-person student), but I also hope you are reading this email to recognize that it's okay to really listen to the inner knowing that's always within you...even if it's scary. It's okay to take risks. It's more than okay to believe in yourself. It's okay to honor curiosities and gentle nudges. It's okay because as a human and spiritual being, these are signals of growth and change, and growth and change aren't always painless.

***

art by @ineslongevial

art by @ineslongevial

Now, my own inner voice is nudging me down a new path in my yoga career, and I wish I could tell you exactly where it ends up. But, that's the evolution, right? Sitting with the uncertainty, allowing it, accepting it, and continuing to surrenderYoga will always be a huge part of my life, and I will continue to share its gifts through writing (the Yoga Dear + Yoga Dear Mama letters will continue!), yoga therapy work, future retreats + trainings, the sky's the limit and I'm letting it unfold. This is only the beginning of my own yoga journey. I'm so grateful it began with you. YOU are a tremendously important person in my life whether we've shared a practice in person, chatted via email, or you simply read from afar. I hope our relationship continues to unfold, and I hope you realize that it's okay to accept change as you grow and evolve, too. 

With so much love,
Leanne (and Eugene + Bodhi)



P.S. I want to make sure it's clear that Yoga Dear is multifaceted, and the studio is a piece. While I am transitioning out of owning a yoga studio, my work and commitment to yoga, yoga therapy, writing the regular letters and Yoga Dear Mama letters, teacher training, and retreats will continue (aka there will still be a www.YogaDear.com - ahem this site). So, this is truly not goodbye. Yoga and its teachings are too precious not to share. With love and big hug to you.

P.P.S. If you are a member of the studio currently, please read this: In the event a sale is not made, all auto-pay and yearly memberships will be turned off on April 16, 2019. Yearly Members will have access to studio classes until the end of April regardless of when their contract "ends" each month. Drop-in's for the rest of the month will be discounted to $14/class. Gift Cards must be redeemed in APRIL. We will not be offering refunds on any unused gift card purchases.

While this sounds very official, we do believe there may be a new studio owner stepping forth to carry this community into its next evolution, but I want to make sure we are including you in the conversations here and preparing for what may come if not. I believe that central PA needs a place to gather, meditate, practice, connect, and am hopeful a new owner will come forward. Please know that I am forever touched by you, by this place. You've changed my life beyond measure. I bow to you. Namaste.