Dear White Yoga and Wellness Teachers,
I am one of you. I have been studying and teaching the art of yoga and self-awareness for over a decade now. I have believed wholeheartedly in the words and methodology that we all likely have said in one class or another; “Be The Change”, “Breathe into the Discomfort”, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”...and other phraseology of that nature. It feels good to say it and it feels even better when a student afterwards comes up to me and says how much my words landed and were needed in a moment when they were struggling. But the yoga studio is a safe space and both the practice and the teaching can only go so far without further action.
As Yoga Teachers, one of our most powerful tools is our voice. For the most part, our students are asked to “take drishti”, either inner or outer, focus on their breathing and use their listening both for themselves and the instructions we are giving. Our voice is the thing that guides them through their practice whether we are giving physical cues or speaking beyond the pose. Our voice matters. Words matter. They always have and they always will in any capacity, but most especially in our Yoga Teaching.
Right now, that tool is vastly being underused. I am seeing a lot of Yogis speak about “listening” and “learning”. And that’s great. There is always a place for that. But you also need to be SPEAKING, especially if you are a white Yoga Teacher who serves a mostly white community. It’s time that we speak up and not need to have all the answers, to risk being imperfect but to utter the words that we are afraid to say, that have probably seemed to you as if they do not belong in the yoga studio. These words are: Black Lives Matter. Racism. White Supremacy. White Privilege. Implicit Bias. Systemic. Institutionalized. I am sure that there are more that I am forgetting and I welcome a calling out and feedback. It’s how I am personally learning. Yes through listening, but also through actively speaking these words aloud. Calling them out within myself and then publicly stating them because it matters that my students and my colleagues hear me say it. It matters that I make a public declaration against neutrality at this moment. Being neutral is dangerous and a privilege. It matters if we are even going to have a hope of changing the blatant whiteness that is our wellness world, we must speak them. To ourselves, to each other. It must become our new mantra so that every act of service we put forth from here on out, is in recognition of these important truths. So that we can no longer take the path that is much easier and more comfortable, that has continually led to a hard life...not for us...but for our fellow BIPOC humans.
If you cannot say these words aloud, then it never really mattered that you said “Be The Change” or “If not now, when. If not who, me.”. It never mattered because when the time came to take action and you chose only listening over calling yourself out and doing the hard work, you didn’t really mean it. This is the moment to actually put your yoga practice into ACTION. Your voice is a choice and an action. So is your silence. Please do not spiritually bypass it off as “listening” when really it’s the fear of speaking up and getting into the uncomfortable work. White Yoga Teachers, Studio Owners, Wellness Advocates and more, if you have not yet publicly stated that Black Lives Matter, know that we hear you loud and clear.
At first glance, this is me on my mat, practicing yoga and meditation. But that’s not really what I am doing. Yes, I am utilizing Yoga and Meditation as the tools that they are, but what I am really doing is working on mastering my own inner state of being and my ability to choose my energy more wisely. Mastery is a noun, but I think of it more like a verb. The definition itself is “comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment”. It’s the skill that I am most interested in here. The knowledge comes, mostly after a lived experience, but the skill of maintaining a presence of mastery is what matters.
This morning, Audrey and I were on a ZOOM call with her classmates. I was set to teach them Yoga and as we began, Audrey became more and more upset. These last few days, her emotions have been especially potent. Playing in depth make-believe, squealing with joy on the beach and raging with anger when things aren’t going her way. She has even gotten physical with me a few times. I tell you this, because if anyone is struggling and comparing your kid against what you see online, I assure you that you are only getting half of a picture. The emotional landscape we human beings have is vast and wide. So much of our struggles come from believing that there is something “wrong” with the intensity of how we feel things, mostly because so much of what we feel gets hidden and feels secret. And the reality is that right now, we are all standing on emotional edges. Today’s class rolled on, Audrey was ushered away by her dad, and I finished teaching what we had planned on together, while also feeling my own intense feelings about what had just gone down. I was admittedly embarrassed and also sad that she was missing out on this moment of fun with people we hold so dearly.
Afterwards, I went upstairs, hugged her and listened to her tell me that she had been feeling nervous about teaching in front of her classmates and that she didn’t want me to teach either. Honest and real, and we talked about it for a while. She shared with me that what calmed her down was doing her “Sa Ta Na Ma” Meditation, ironically something we had planned on doing in the class. I was proud of her and told her so. And then my Mom decided to take her to my grandpa’s house for the afternoon (the one place we are ok to go right now). I knew she needed some time away and I knew exactly what I needed. I needed to work on my mastery of my own energy. And I had do that through intentional movement and intentional stillness.
I have learned in my years of study that emotional literacy as an adult must be learned through being very deliberate about it. If we weren’t given the space and autonomy to feel things freely as a child, it’s likely that we don’t have the skills to navigate our emotional waters as an adult. What’s even more likely is that when our children start to navigate their own waters, we are often triggered into our own insecurities and confusion. Thus we pass down the line of succession, emotional illiteracy. And this is in no way a slight against any parenting out there. The reality simply is that we do not speak about emotional literacy let alone give skills and education for how to go about it. Instead our inability to really name what is going on and what we are feeling manifests itself. For some it’s addiction and forms of numbing, for some its seeking intense thrills or pleasure or focusing solely on what isn’t going well, for me it came in the form of an eating disorder and a story of “I am not enough” for so many years.
So now in the reality that my child is facing what is surely the very beginning of her own emotional journey, I am called to step up, not to hers, but to my own. In those moments when things are riding high for her, the only thing I can ever do is stand clear in my own energetic and emotional state. I can only look to my own center of being, rather than try and have any control over hers. And by doing that, I give her at least a fighting chance that as she needs to discover her own landscape, she has a safe space in which to do so.
These last few days, even with all of the work I have already done, I have found myself thrown off center in these moments. One thing I have learned however is that this is not something for which to shame myself. This is simply an opening to go even further in strengthening my skills and healing within myself that which needs healing. It’s an opportunity to do the work of knowing and understanding myself better so that I may be able to hold a neutral space for my girl to get to know and understand herself, however that unfolds. This is what I am really doing in these practices. I am learning how to breathe with what is, to move through the discomfort with grace and to feel the potency of stillness, even in turbulent waters, so when anger, sadness, confusion, frustration show up, I have the skills to guide myself through them without doing harm to myself or anyone else, and most especially my child. It’s not easy work. But this kind of fluency with myself matters almost more than anything to me. Though my beautiful, incredible, powerful daughter holds the number one spot and in truth, that only strengthens my resolve to be as emotionally literate in myself as possible.
Finally, I would like to remind us all, that I am not special in this possibility. We all have the power to become fluent in the language of ourselves. We have to dig deep and mostly we have to be intentional in our learning. I invite and encourage you to find a teacher, not someone who will tell you about you, because that person doesn’t exist. If you come across someone who says that they have the answers for you, run the other way. But someone who will simply hold neutral space for you so that you may feel safe enough to explore the landscape of your emotional self, without judgement or shame. My offerings come in the form of One on One Coaching and the Monthly Meditation Circle right now. But whether you choose to walk this path with me or anyone else, my wish for you is to know the incredible love arises from doing this kind of work. All of the effort we have so long put in to suppressing and numbing our emotions, is equally met with a freedom and incredible love when we finally take a look inside. And just know, that I will be over here on my own journey, should you ever need to feel just a little less lonely in yours, becoming fluent in myself.
I must confess something. And please, before I do, let me acknowledge two things. The first, that I am aware of my incredible privilege during this time. I have a roof over my head, food and clean water and we even have the luxury of a support system in my mom and stepdad. While we do our best to continue to work and parent all while in the same space, we have the ability to ask for help from them when we need it. Privileged. The second thing that I must acknowledge is that the reason for these circumstances is not anything that I would ever truly wish for. Each day I am saddened and heartbroken over those who are dying and especially for my beloved city of New York.
But here is my confession: At least once a day I have the thought run across my mind that “this is how life is supposed to be lived”. I am not talking about the social distancing, I miss our friends and community immensely. I am not talking about the utter caution and care we have to take to simply visit a grocery store and the anxiety it can produce. But in the pure simplicity of each day, I marvel at how wonderful it feels to let go of so much and simply live life as it is showing up. I thought that I was doing that before, but this newly configured time and space has shifted something deep within me that is waking me up to all these new ways to receive and live life.
My husband and I are doing work that matters to us, finding creative ways to earn money and communicating clearly to each other what our needs are. And those little moments of time when I can’t help but overhear him, in action in his work, I gain a deeper respect and understanding for what he is doing and how he does it. As a family we are navigating through the rough patches together, it’s not all easy. Audrey has just recently gotten quite stirred up energetically and is testing some new boundaries with us. Perhaps it is the full moon or her age or the fact that she hasn’t been able to play with anyone her own age in a while. But we are coming together as a family each day and talking to her about how we are a team and supporting her in feeling safe to explore these new levels of emotion, while continuing to be clear on our boundaries as her parents. In an even more basic plane, we are doing the school projects that get sent our way, engaging in fun and educational activities but not really “schooling” her in anything. Yet her thirst for learning is amplified and as in tact as ever. And perhaps most miraculously, she is watching less tv than ever before, with the occasional show and movie night thrown in, but mostly each day passes without reliance on it as a time filler.
One of my favorite things about this time is the connection that is being created and made stronger between one another, even beyond our family of 3. How lucky we are that we are living under that same roof as my mom, stepdad and grandpa. That Audrey is getting the experience of 4 generations living together in an age when families are often towns, cities and continents apart from one another. And with those from whom we are apart, we are checking in with each other regularly, creating story times and happy hours and “Playdates” to simply bask in each other’s company, albeit digitally. Professionally, this is the case as well. My coaching clients, my meditation group and my yogis are showing up with the simple intention to nurture themselves, because quite frankly that is all there is to do each day. So simple, yet so profound.
But what has me the most in awe is that none of it feels forced. It all feels so natural and simple because the reality is that none of us know where this is all going and how it’s all going to end up. And with that collective understanding, at least personally, I feel this incredible comfort and joy in not needing to know because life itself is still unfolding, even if it looks much different than it did just a few weeks ago. It feels good and right to not have such a strong agenda in hand. It feels good and right that each day the work is in caring for myself, for my child, for our family and what comes beyond that is all about creation and connection in the moment, and that is it. The standards and “shoulds” seem to have dropped and the space that is now occupying what they used to feels radical and expansive and wonderful.
I know this is not the case for all and I hold space for whatever the experience may be that you are having. But in case you are feeling the same as me right now, I want you to know you aren’t alone and that I will continue to stand with you as time goes on and we emerge from this experience. And if you are feeling guilty about feeling good right now, while the entire world is flipped upside down, I want to offer you permission to let the guilt go. It could be that this is just what you needed, to slow down and just be for a while. It may change and there may come a day when you feel differently. And if you’re like me, it may feel like this very experience is the exact one you have always been working for. All of the meditation, the self-inquiry, the healing, getting comfortable within the walls of your own skin and mind...perhaps this is the very offering and fruit of that work.
None of us know what comes next and we don’t need to. But I want to encourage you to do all that you can to find any small bit of solace in the now. Life is happening and these moments feel more precious than ever these days. May you be able to take comfort in the simplicity and nothingness, even if just for a moment. And if you feel at peace right now, you are not alone. I see you and feel you.
I know there is so much fear right now. I know that each day that we wake, we face an incredible amount of uncertainty. I know that the world feels like it is spinning at a rate that may fling us off, at any moment. I know that when we look at our children, we wonder about the impact that all of this is having. I know the worry, I know the darkness. But I ask you dear one, What do you love?
Here is what I love:
This is an example of the work I am doing with the April Meditation Group. I am keeping the door open for one day longer. Let’s sit in love together this month. Love for ourselves, for each other and for the pure and profound simplicity of this life. This is how we defy the fear.
Yesterday, Audrey and I had one of those wonderfully epic days. We got up early, went to our Saturday morning theater class, from there headed out to the new neighborhood playground and proceeded to stay outside for the next several hours, meeting up with friends and enjoying the sunshine. The fun continued well into the afternoon, just before bedtime however, Audrey was spent. Her energy began to unravel and we entered into a full emotional meltdown. Anyone who is a parent knows exactly what I am talking about and how that moment feels. Your incredibly overtired, highly emotional child is just losing it before your very eyes as you sit there, trying to piece together every ounce of your own sanity. Then comes the moment when out of her own anger, frustration and confusion she swings her arm and kicks her feet at you. She gets physical. And all you want to do is match that energy and scream and yell back at her to stop hitting you...
And yet, I did the exact opposite. I am proud to say that I have been strong in my own practices lately, and this entire time I remained mostly silent, calm and centered. I calmly dodged her efforts to hit, simply saying it wasn't ok to hit me and after a while was able to help her get into her pajamas and into her bed. Still incredibly upset, and protesting sleep, I got up, walked across the room and grabbed our two nighttime oils, Calmer and Steady from the Kids Collection. As I approached she yelled out “NO! I don’t want oils!” Now, I am committed to never forcing my tools on her. I want her to have complete autonomy when it comes to how she uses any self-care tool and technique. When it comes to oils especially, I want her to have choice over how she uses them, when she uses them and if she uses them. Even when I know that they could help, if there is any kind of resistance, I refrain from force and guilt.
Even so, I sat on the bed next to her and unrolled the top of Steady. As she was protesting, I took the oil and turned it towards my own heart. I drew the shape of a heart over my chest, just as I normally do to her. I took the Calmer blend and rolled it over my own feet. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and sat quietly. In a moment or so, everything stopped, everything was silent. I opened my eyes and there she was staring at me. I smiled, I lay down next to her and she immediately rolled right into me and buried her head in my chest (perfect as that is where I rolled the oil, thought unintentional on my behalf). Her tears of protest turned into tears of release. There was a vast energetic difference. And then, I swear to you on all that is sacred, she said “I am so sorry that I hit you Mama. I am so sorry I wasn’t listening. I was feeling ‘riled up’, angry and confused”. I have no idea where she learned the phrase “riled up” but I was floored at her ability to tell me that. Next, I asked her “How do you feel now?” to which she responded “Sad, but ok”. I then asked her, “What can you do to help yourself right now my love?” and she said “I need to go to sleep”. My 4.5 year old, the very same one who was protesting for her life the idea of ending our wonderfully epic day, then rolled over, closed her eyes and calmly went to sleep. She was able to clearly communicate to me, and most importantly to herself, how she was feeling in a moment of emotional intensity, take ownership over it and pinpoint what it was that was going to support her in moving through her own sadness and emotional upset. And then she took action.
I have an incredible child, I know that. But she is not some magical unicorn that does something more or different than any other. I show her a lot on social media in her best moments, but I promise you, there is more to the story. She is human, she screams, she yells, she gets shy and she goes through phases of hitting me when she is angry and upset. We work incredibly hard at emotional intelligence...but here’s the thing, we don’t do the work on her, we do it on ourselves. In that moment that I visibly took care of my own impulse and energy, I gave her permission to do that same. She sees Justin and I on the regular, take moments throughout the day to take care of ourselves. She doesn’t just see it in our joy, but she sees it in our pain and discomfort too. If we argue, we do it (respectfully) in front of her, not behind closed doors as long as the content is appropriate. She watches us take deep breaths, use oils, meditate, take breaks and then come back together to make up with love, kindness and respect. We try hard for her to know that conflict is not a negative thing, something to run from, but something to learn from, mostly about ourselves. She sees if we are sad, or overtired ourselves and we clearly talk about what it is we are feeling.
But here is why I want to share this most of all...I talk a lot about Self-Care and Self-Love. In my work, I teach these practices daily, to my coaching clients, my challenge groups and my yoga students. I genuinely want anyone who works with me to find the benefits of this work and have it work for themselves. However, that is not my why. My reason for teaching this is so that we have the ability to pass this important work down to our children and the generations that come after us. This is legacy work. It is how we will teach our children because they do not do what we say, they do what they see. We are all handed things from our ancestors, from our parents, not just in the form of things, but also in the form of emotional patterns and habits. How we handle our emotional states and self IS our legacy.
In that very moment that I simultaneously listened to my daughter’s protests, didn’t force her to bend to my will and directed my efforts on my own needs, I gave us both permission to soften, to be present and to take ownership over self. I too am not some magical unicorn who has always known how to go about this. In fact, there was a long time in my life when I was completely unable to take ownership and would have flown off the handle at a moment’s notice. Motherhood itself has been the strongest test to those patterns and habits and in an earlier time in my life, I would have railed right back at my child. Anger seemed to give me some sense of sanity in the moment. But the hangover that I got from it and the wake that it left were too great of a consequence for me to continue in that way. And while it wasn’t completely my fault, it was what was unconsciously passed down to me, my choice in whether or not I continue it is 100% mine to own.
We are living in an incredibly stressful time. This past week has been especially heavy. And we can be certain that if we are feeling it as adults, so are our children, little empaths that they are. And in all honesty, this is a profound opportunity to change the pattern and habits of how we deal with this kind of collective stress, by being more intentional with our personal stress. Our children are looking to us to show them how to respond. We can either continue down the path of the work that was created in a different time and space, when there were completely different circumstances at play, or we can create new pathways. One that makes more sense for the present moment and serves us, our children and each other better. How you care for yourself, is how you teach others to care for you, how you teach them to care for themselves and it is your legacy.
Tomorrow, I am launching some new, regular ways to get into and remain in your own work. I absolutely want to inspire you to think about you when considering signing up, but I also want you to think about what doing this kind of work will mean, for generations to come.
In the meantime, here are two links to purchase the Kids Collection Oils and the Emotional Aromatherapy Oils. If you want my help in a more personalized purchase, send me an email.
Love Yourself Today,
One of the reasons that I LOVE using essential oils with Audrey is that they give her the tools and autonomy to take care of her emotions and her body with great intention. It matters greatly to us that she remains in constant self-inquiry and every day practices of self-care and love, while maintaining her natural love for learning about all kinds of things.
When I saw this Science for Kids Workbook, I fell even more in love with doTERRA for creating something that engages our kids in their natural curiosity and love for science, using essential oils! It's actually super fun to work through as an adult too!!
In doing a bit of research for a bigger piece I am working on, I came across this word and these thoughts. I thought I would share them candidly here as I believe this represents a bigger issue in our culture...
Let's talk about the first definition that addresses psychological benefit vs. physiological benefit. This completely separates the mind from the body as if one is oil and one is water. Your mind IS your body and studies are now really showing that what we think, how we feel, effect how we function on a physiological level. Not to mention, if you feel motivated, upbeat, positive you are more likely to treat your physical body much differently then when you feel sluggish, sad and unable to cope. To me, that completely disputes the underscored definition of it offering "no therapeutic effect". And lastly, I love how the word "merely" is placed before calm and please as if they are secondary in some way. We have to stop thinking of mental and emotional health as something that is "merely". HOW YOU FEEL MATTERS. And even more importantly, your ability to intelligently navigate how you feel, that you have tools, support and encouragement to do so, matters. Because as of now the most used tools to navigate such waters have been things like drugs, alcohol, sex, food and social media. Things that numb and keep us from our potential rather than allow us to move through our feelings with love and grace towards our potential.
Let me be clear, I am not saying that we should ONLY address matters of the mind when it comes to how we treat disease. Medicine is a wondrous thing that saves many, many lives when appropriately used. I am grateful that doctors were able to save my brother's heart twice in his life and that he had pain medication to help through the pain. I am grateful that there ARE antibiotics available in this country should my child or anyone I love need them. This is NOT an argument for one or the other, alternative healing vs. western medicine. To be quite blunt, that is a bullshit argument that only creates divisiveness among practitioners of all kinds. But we have also so greatly disconnected our minds, the power that we have over our entire system that we have completely written it off as "merely" or "non-therapeutic".
I am also not advocating that we start embracing this word placebo. I am actually advocating that we knock it off all together. We have to better integrate mind, body and spirit and if we are going to do that, we have to become less obsessed with proving everything all the time and TRUSTING our own brains more. We have to be more willing to get to know ourselves rather than look outwardly for how to "fix" ourselves. The solutions to so many issues actually live within our own minds and how we relate to the human experience that we are having. "It's all in your head" should not be something that we brush off, but something that we embrace and welcome in as a real and felt experience. Our anxiety, our stress, our worry, our fear, all of it is calling our attention back to ourselves for a little more one on one time than we tend to give.
Today is the first day of a brand new month, this means that you can begin again. Whatever winter has weighed you down with, today you can decide it's time to begin the process of emergence. Begin to peel away the layers, the weight, the worry, the doubt and begin to put your face to the sun. Allow what needs softening to melt away and simply remind yourself that in this beautiful process of your life, it is never too late to begin again. Today. Right now.
Happy March my friend. Your spring is coming.
And I want to invite you to begin a new journey this month...
Meet the Healthy Essentials Kit!!doTERRA has been revamping a lot of their kits and collections and hands down, this one is my absolute new favorite and I will tell the very important reason why:
While it still has all of the important oils for keeping your body healthy such as:
OnGuard - to keep the Immune system running well and efficiently
Breathe - to keep the respiratory system strong
Lavender - to help with the ever important good night's rest
Peppermint - to help with headaches and pain
DigestZen - to help with keeping your digestive system running smoothly
DeepBlue - to help your muscles feeling healthy
Lemon - to help keep your entire body feeling cleansed
it ALSO comes with 3 incredibly important oils and blends that address our emotional and mental health and function:
Copaiba - a cannabinoid that helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and calm down the nervous system. A drop under the tongue does WONDERS. It also supports healthy immune system function.
Apaptiv - an incredible blend that has been specifically formulated to help with our emotional state of being when things get heightened with stress, worry, doubt and fear. This blend lights up the brain in a way that helps us adapt rather than react.
Balance - A grounding blend that brings us back to earth and our bodies when the air of overwhelm hits.
The kit also comes with a Petal Diffuser!
This is an incredible kit to bring into your home and your daily ritual. If you follow me at all, you know that I wholeheartedly believe that we must care for our minds, our hearts and our spirits just as much as we care for our bodies. It's not that its all connected, its that it all IS the same being. How we feel emotionally informs how our bodies function physically. What's so incredible about this kit is that it really addresses it all!
When you purchase this kit this month, you will get a free coaching call with me so that we can come up with a plan designed just for you and how to put these tools into action!
is a Mama, Wife, Teacher, Writer and Activist. She is deeply committed to unlearning her own white supremacy and privilege so not to do more harm in the perpetuation and power she has a spiritual white woman. As a coach, she teaches radical self-love and care as a way to not stay within ourselves, but to be of the most potent service outside of ourselves. As a writer she is using her voice and words to call out herself and those for whom she resonates with so that we may be called in to do the necessary work. As a Yoga and Meditation Teacher she is works to hold space for a healing that is free from toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing so that we can recognize the value of both the shadow and the light. As a Mama, she is committed to anti-racist parenting and raising a better generation of ancestors than even herself. All of it is her Activism.