It’s crazy that I haven’t posted anything for nearly 4 months! I’m sad to have slacked here – but it is for good reason. Let me tell you what I’ve been busy with that has kept me from blogging.
I’m writing a book. OK, well, my daughter and I are writing it together. It is a book about doing yoga with your 2-6 year old. This picture is from the amazing photo shoot that we did this summer. We had 9 local families participate. It’ll be a book helping folks engage with their littlest ones in a way that is safe, fun and health promoting 🙂 So many of my “writing hours” have been and will continue to go to that this year. If you know you want a first round copy of this you can donate on my gofundme page that we made to help cover the costs of doing this right. There is more information on the gofundme page. Yes, you’ll be the first to know when it is in print!
I’ve also been spending some time building a youtube channel(OlyndaYoga) full of short and long and easy and challenging videos for you to pick from. These videos are really for you to practice with. Many of the videos I’ve seen on line look really pretty, but don’t have very much (or any) alignment mentioned. My videos are instructional videos that I’ve made with an eye towards keeping you safe, inspired and connected in your practice even when you need to practice at home. It feels great to give you the ability to practice more, and to connect in this way.
With most of my creative energy and time going into these outlets I may be posting to the blog only intermittently. To stay connected, I’ve started a Instagram account where I plan to be posting regularly. You can follow me there at OlyndaYoga. And you can always sign up for my monthly newsletter if you don’t already get it.
Here it is! This little recording is my gift to you. It is a Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is an ancient, deep relaxation technique that means Divine Sleep. The good news is you don’t even need a yoga mat, or a change of clothes. You just need a cozy place to lay on your back with no interruptions, for 30 minutes. Yes, that means silencing your phone. In fact, I invite you to put your phone in another room. Let your family members know you are unavailable. If you have pre-teens or teens you can invite them to practice with you.
This practice is the uncontested FAVORITE activity in my middle and high school classes. This recording was made during one of my high school classes. Thanks guys!
If you want to get extra luxurious about it (which I hope you do) grab a blanket, some cozy socks and/or an eye pillow. The practice is designed to help you feel rested, whole, present and more aware of your interconnections. If you have the time, and your body needs to move a bit, do a few sun salutations or a full practice first.
Ready to go? Skip to the bottom and enjoy! Want to geek out a bit? Keep reading.
In yoga we see that all things have a rhythm, a pulsation. Everything that is alive, has a cycle of activity and rest. As modern day humans we are doing everything we can to step out of that rhythm. Our world is organized in opposition to our ability to follow our bodies natural need to rest. It is increasingly hard in today’s world to actually tune in and line up to the slower rhythm of nature. And our body, as part of the earth, craves that slower rhythm. So as a society, we are in a huge deficit of sleep and restful activities. And our need for rest – because of the sheer pace and stress of our lives is at an all time high.
We value sleep, play and restfulness so little, that these things seem like the perfect sctivities to cut out of our busy lives. And we are suffering for it. Brené Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfection” states that “According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heat disease, obesity and depression.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make time for some delicious rest, than make time for doctors appointments and the suffering created by these illnesses! While I encourage you to actually sleep sleep. This practice of Divine Sleep can also be a huge support in finding deep rest.
It’s been a rough week, and a rough few years in the news. Especially when we are grieving, angry, scared or frustrated, it’s vital to take a break. This practice, with it’s guided imagery, is intended to give you a “thought vacation” so you can come back to your life with freshness, support, and new found creativity and clarity.
You can use anything, truly anything to grow your consciousness, compassion and ultimate joy. This is one of those spiritual ideas that seems “nice” but in fact is super powerful and incredibly hard to live in to. For me it has taken every moment of the last 15 years of practice to really lean into that idea again and again. It’s a key idea in Tantric yoga, and one that time and time again I have experienced, eventually, to be true.
This morning, after staying up too late in a state of shock and mild terror (OK not so mild terror) I eventually came back home to this idea. The heartbreak I am feeling now, even the fear I am feeling now can be a clear clarion call to inspire growth and action in these challenging times. These after-election day feelings, whatever they are for you can lead you to help build the kind of world you wish to see. Really. Last year I went deep into the mysteries of the Divine Feminine with Andrew Harvey and Sally Kempton on their beautiful Shift Network course “The Evolutionary Goddess.” One of the many beautiful slices of wisdom that came through that course was Andrew Harvey encouraging us to find what breaks our hearts about the world – and to let that lead us to our mission, our service to the greater whole.
So today, if like me, you are heartbroken, I encourage you to lean into that feeling in anyway that is appropriate for you. You may wish to have a walk in the woods, spend time on your yoga mat, take a bubble bath, do a seated meditation, journal, paint, talk it out with beloveds. There are so many ways to do this deep work of allowing yourself to feel what you are feeling and really follow the threads to understand what is bubbling up for you. You may find you are terrified for the natural world, or for women’s health, or for our ability to connect rather than be divided. Once you find that heartbreak let it lead you to action. No matter who is in office, you can be a light. You can volunteer, donate money, raise awareness on any of the issues that you are heartbroken about. Use this potent time and clarity to step up and into your Seva (selfless service). Maybe you’ll decide to run for office yourself? Invest in solar energy? Create a charter school? Or just get your office to recycle. If we all do what we can – given the demands of our lives – each small action added together can create a tidal wave of positive growth for this country. Regardless of who is in the white house.
I have one last thought for you today, which is this beautiful poem. I’ve been reading it to myself all day:
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver
“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal — a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.