Join me in Philadelphia on Saturday April 18 for a full-day yoga experience. Namas Day comes to the WHYY Building to offer an array of workshops to yoga enthusiasts of all levels.
One of my greatest joys in yoga is experiencing the practice with others. Think of the difference between listening to a CD or going to a concert with your favorite band. We need these group experiences to share and celebrate our collective love of the practice. I remember the first time I truly felt and acknowledged the energy between a yoga peer. I had been attending yoga classes at Power Yoga Works for the better part of a year when a woman settled into the mat next to me with a vibrant energy. We exchanged names and smiles before starting the class. The energy that carried her through our rigorous asanas motivated me to deepen my regular practice. After class she let me know that she had just returned from a yoga retreat with Baron Baptiste. For her, the experience was transformative and I am so grateful that she radiated that light to me in our shared practice.
Now, it is time for Philadelphia to experience that energy and positivity that comes from more than 400 people joining together to share a day of yoga. View more at namasdayphilly.com/presenters/.
Festival-goers can expect to visit an array of local wellness businesses in the marketplace and receive “swag bag” giveaways. Businesses interested in supporting Namas Day can join sponsors like Whole Foods Market, for which a portion of the proceeds will support the Transformation Yoga Project.
Namas Day registration is currently open. Sessions will close when they are filled. For registration info and complete festival details, visit www.namasdayphilly.com To get the low down on the big day, please “like” Philly Area Yoga on Facebook and with Namas Day on Facebook.
When I first became a Mother, my biggest struggle was the lack of sleep. The questions and comments flooded every conversation. “How’s baby sleeping?” “You have to sleep whenever baby sleeps.” Or the dreaded statements about sleep training from viewpoints that conflicted with my own. Sleep, it seemed, was my biggest problem and my biggest failure as a new mother. But now, lying beside my three year old and tracing the outline of her face in the shadows, listening to her breath ease, is one of my greatest joys. Her peace permeates my stress and gently relaxes me into rest.
Now don’t think that I rest like a log. There are nights that I wake to an arm draped across my forehead, a swift kick to the kidney, or even a saturated bed sheet. There is a difference now. Life after dark is no longer an emergency because I am no longer alone.
God is here.
The earliest prayers I remember all sounded the same. “God give me…” or “God help me…” I seemed to miss the important element that simply acknowledging God is a prayerful reflection. That small change has shifted prayer to a time of meditation and rest. How does that affect me? Well, I can use those moments when I am weak or tired to let it all go into God’s hands. As I anticipate baby #3 and the sleepless nights ahead, I can’t help but wonder if our little angels aren’t prodding us into a “night watch” of prayer. All they know of us is love, compassion, nurture, and strength. Maybe, just maybe, God is working through His children to call us to connect with others.
Sometimes I reflect on my thoughts when i feel lonely, tired, and unable to sleep. Often, the image of a friend pops into my head. When I give God my presence and focus, I know that He will help bear their struggles and I can rest. In my own hard time, a friend gave me the beautiful encouragement to crawl up under my big Daddy’s blanket and let His grace wrap me with love. That is the most tender, rest-inspiring image that I have in my sleep play-book.
A time of Shared Prayer
The reason I am comforted knowing that other mothers are awake and praying through the night is that it feels like a phone chain with God at the helm. For the past few nights, I have been praying for a dear, young Mother, who is a close family friend, fighting cancer. (#fighton) I know that her community’s shared prayers grant her and her family rest and lift them into God’s light. Would I earnestly dedicate a prayer for her every hour or every three hours? Absolutely. I know others are doing the same.
In fact, last night, an unexpected labor prompted early prayers for a close friend of mine. Just as I was about to sleep, I noticed through Facebook that another friend was about to begin painting my belly cast. I texted her and asked her to think of my pregnant mama friend in her art work. Essentially, I was asking her if she would carry the torch for the night watch while I rested. Of course she would.
Each morning, God grants us a new day filled with seconds, minutes, and hours to use as we please. Every one that I choose to give away in prayer is a precious gift to share with others. In turn, I feel lifted by the prayers around me. There is healing, wisdom, and light in every prayer. Is it any surprise that our children, the very people who see our vibrant spirit in every step we take, would call us into action on the Night Watch?
On Monday, my children and I hit a few serious speed bumps. It’s the nature of the beast to drive along the corridors of routes 202 and 100 at this time of year. But, the lesson that keeps coming to me in the form of flat tires appears to be something along the lines of “SLOW DOWN” or “KEEP COMPOSED IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.” This Monday, I exploded the third tire in 13 short months and yet again received an opportunity to experience God’s grace.
Because my children were in the car, the strongest sense of gratitude goes purely towards the fact that we are all uninjured. But, beyond that, I’m grateful that they saw me stop the car, take a deep breath, and work to remedy the situation. After collecting all the tools, I lined up the pair of toddlers on a blanket, tucked far back from the active roadside and assured them that learning to change a tire is one of life’s most important lessons. I had no idea just how profound the lesson would be for all three of us.
When the car was lifted midway on the jack, I stopped to check that everything was lined up. My girls watched eagerly and patiently (a miracle in itself!) so I told them I wanted to say a prayer. I thanked God for being with us on the side of the road and giving us access to the tools we needed to change our tire. As I turned around to get back to the jack, a car pulled in front of us and a man stepped out to help. I was truly astonished with the synchronicity of my prayer and the immediate reply of a kind-hearted gentleman with the spirit to help our family. I mean, I’ve placed orders at Chic-Fil-A that have taken longer to fulfill.
We all gratefully accepted his help and my kids eagerly welcomed me onto their blanket. I love that I was able to share a simple prayer with the girls and that they saw God’s response go above and beyond what we asked. It gives me such faith to know that I don’t have to have all the answers and even when I make mistakes, God is with us. It is with that same faith and confidence that I will humbly venture to the nearby Pep Boys, with the toddlers in tow, to pray for a swift replacement and a kid-friendly waiting area. With any luck, it will offer some peace to reflect on the scripture from Sunday’s service:
Matthew 11: 28-30
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear and this burden is light.
The three most commonly asked questions of any pregnant woman are as follows:
When is your baby due?
Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl?
Where are you going to deliver?
I’ll answer the last question for you because it’s the only one I know. I am giving birth at home. This little fact nestles me amidst a small, but growing birth community in the Philadelphia suburbs. Because of the women who participate in the Rising Moon Midwifery practice, I had an amazing experience today that I want to share with you. I feel like it poignantly illustrates the quality and compassion of care in a birth community. It fills my heart with joy when I answer the question about my upcoming delivery in May. Here’s why I love the delightful web of friends and Mamas who are part of my birth community.
After church this morning, I drove through the early flakes of snow to my friend Brittany’s home. Brittany is a doula, photographer, and aspiring midwife with a heart of gold. (Follow her Facebook page for the most amazing birth photography here.) She invited me over to receive a trial run of her new prenatal practice, a belly cast. I eagerly accepted her invitation after she colored the offering with kind words of empowerment, love and confidence towards the work I am doing carrying this sweet baby.
Now, I have to tell you that her home is a beautiful, lovable state of disarray. It immediately made me think of the chapter I read last night from the book No More Perfect Moms. Can you guess which chapter? It was called No More Perfect Homes. As we walked upstairs and she paused to shift her clean laundry alongside our path, I told her that I feel happy coming to her home and the authenticity makes me love her even more. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t her first time hearing the sentiment.
Imagine my surprise walking up the steps when I was greeted with a stunning image of our friend, the mother who gave me that book, shining in her robust pregnant glory last summer. I admired her and the other friends artfully displayed on the wall, like our midwife Kate, triumphantly holding a baby I know into her mother’s first gaze. Another picture showed a woman nursing her baby. I had met her, just weeks before the image, at a Christmas party and confessed to her that I needed help refraining from eating more than a dozen cookies from the swap. Surrounded with mementos of our community, we shared from the heart about life, birth, and family as we captured an icon of my burgeoning belly. I closed the circle of our community involvement, for now, as I washed away the drips of plaster with Lelayna’s amazing homemade soap. But who knows where the next steps of the Belly Cast will take us. Perhaps it will hang over a community circle while honoring other pregnant women.
The one thing I took away above all else is the value of this prenatal work. Brittany confided that these steps connecting with birthing mamas are so important to her because she wants to arrive into the sacred space of a birth as a known friend and helper. She truly shines in her ability to make this work a labor of love.
There is a space that gives me comfort. Through the gift of yoga, this space exists wherever I unroll my mat. Beyond the noticeable effects of a dedicated, long-term practice lies the heartfelt truth that peace comes in every asana.
As I reach through familiar poses and sequences, my mind stills. Sometimes when I pause for reflection, I remember the journey. In the early days I looked to admire instead of listening for intuition. My ego crowded my thoughts with anxiety so ferociously that sweat poured from my body and hands. I thought it was a great workout based on one physical reaction of cleansing. It wasn’t until I allowed yoga to flow freely through my life that I discovered the growth that occurs within. The same mat that once grounded my feet now carries ten friendly and energetic toes through each practice. Where I stood and faltered through balance by assessing over-praise or negativity is now a sanctuary of strength and self worth. The same wheel that a ponytail once blocked now opens my heart even through some of the darkest places.
I have known death, trauma, loss of love, and addiction. But, in spite of all the hardships, I have found my true home on a space that holds a vibrant yoga practice.
Nectar of Life Yoga Retreat with Jeannette Bezinque
Pendle Hill, Media PA
April 10-12, 2015
Immerse yourself in yoga and the foundations of a healthy lifestyle on this 3 day retreat at the tranquil Pendle Hill in Media, PA. Explore the practices of Power Vinyasa Yoga and meditation with your host, Jeannette Bezinque. Enjoy nourishing, organic meals and plenty of time to explore the outdoors, art studio, or library. This retreat is suitable for all levels and promises to be a nurturing experience for the mind, body, and soul.
The Nectar of Life Yoga Retreat Experience:
Organic meals, snacks, and refreshments
Daily Meditation and Power Vinyasa Yoga sessions
Creative expression through art, writing, or reading
Comfortable accommodations on site, double or single rooms available
$480 all inclusive, $460 (double occupancy *bring a friend!)
email email@example.com to register
One of my favorite parts about yoga is the sanskrit lingo. We have words that express so much warmth and light in just a few syllables that we can’t help but want to tattoo them all over our bodies in between lotus flowers and Buddha visions. The first word I ever learned was namaste, and to this day I can hardly explain the definition without sprawling it across a paragraph. Roughly translated, it means that I honor the space in you that is light from the space in me that is light and when we are in the space together, we shine. But how can you roughly translate that?? You need to swaddle these words in photographic images of beauty instead of punctuating an expression that has been around for thousands of years.
I would love to tell you that I know all the yoga words. I do not. In fact, I struggled to come up with a list of 15 from memory in my journal the other night. Don’t even ask me about the spellings on most of them (utita hasta padabustasana?(sic)?) Still, I love them all. I love hearing them in class and imagining the way the words are based on the sculptures of our bodies as we express the asanas as phrases. I love watching the scribbles dance across their lines in sanskrit. I love the way I feel when someone says, “namaste y’all.” Sometimes the simplicity of barely understanding brings out the essence of new beginnings and true presence, which is what yoga is all about.
A couple years ago, I had the divine experience of walking into the surf and practicing yoga on the sandy beach of Tulum, Mexico. The gentle rocking of the waves humbled my balance while the sun gently shone around as I woke the various limbs of my body through a familiar sun salutation. My mind quieted while my limbs moved into poses that they have found hundreds, maybe thousands of times. Standing in the sand, each pose felt new. My heels responded to the movement of the sand and cascaded energy throughout my body until surging towards my fingertips. I rocked through chaturanga and pushed away the Earth, giving way below me simultaneously. The sensations of the land underneath me were addicting, and I haven’t been able to turn down an outdoor experience since.
Standing behind my place in the sand and pausing, I noticed my imprints in the sand. My motions had produced beautiful imagery from the very poses I expressed with an essence of love for the practice. I couldn’t help but relate my experience to that of the earliest yogi writers. How else could anyone possibly create an OM other than through a graceful dance across the sand?
Ever since, I leave messages in the sand. Tickling and rearranging the tiny particles is just one of the ways that I commit to my practice spiritually.
Confession time: I have been dreaming big dreams. Something shifted off balance in me a year ago, and by the time I recollected myself on my feet I realized that the strength I needed to get back up had transformed me so much that my small, steady dreams no longer fit my heart. Those who know me closely, know that big changes are taking place in my life. Baby number 3 is anticipated at the end of the spring and I’ve shifted yoga to a pertinent place in my life. I’m thankful to have embraced the full concept of mind, body, and spirit in the practice to keep me grounded to the truly important aspect of life: the present.
Each day I’m making small steps toward a future of God’s design. There is an immense freedom that comes from releasing my needs and desires to the care of something much more understanding than I could ever hope to be. Instead of pick pocketing my seconds and stealing the simple and beautiful parts of each day that weave together to form my life by shrouding them with a dark cloud of worry or guilt, I’ve found an umbrella.
Life is different now. I had to update my About Me section to incorporate my new path. I have to carve out time for the things that matter. But most importantly, I have serenity and I know where it comes from. It didn’t come in a day or even an hour, but in the careful practice of honoring myself with trust and devotion.
I love the convenience of pre-made wipes. They have helped me sweep away an infinite number of messes with ease over the years; even before I had babies. But, once I had babies, I suddenly had two problems with my favorite store-bought wipes. First of all, they were expensive to buy again and again and secondly, the ingredients were too harsh to be around the new, sensitive noses in my home. Now that my children have grown into toddlers, we have even more reasons to use wipes and they are so willing to help me in all my cleaning endeavors. I decided that we needed a reusable, natural solution for our wipes and now I am excited to share that with you.
We make these wipes all the time. I give them as gifts, I stash them in my car before road trips, I even share them with the neighbors. There are so many times that these wipes have come in handy, that I love recreating this simple project over and over again with my children.
The materials are simple. Reuse a jar and upcycle a teeshirt or other cloth. I use Thieves from Young Living for my concentrated cleaning supply and rely on water for the rest of the work. I’ll share how to put it all together in just a few simple steps. The next time you need a rainy day activity, ask the kids to help assemble these useful household wipe jars and you won’t regret it!
- Thieves Household Cleaner
Cut the tshirt into a simple shape for wipes. I find that rectangles, about 6 inches by 8 inches work best.
Add ¼ capful of thieves oil to the jar. Just that small amount will do the trick. It has the best smell and is an all-natural option for cleaning. If you want to use these wipes for baby bottoms, try tea tree oil mixed with water. Fill about 1/3 of the jar with water, then shake to combine.
Stuff the wipes in the jar one by one. When they are all inside, turn the jar over to soak all the wipes.
Voila! It’s that simple to make your own effective cleaning wipes. Now you’ll be prepped and ready to tackle the next mess. There are so many amazing uses for Essential Oils in the home. I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils and I would love to share my tips with you anytime! Email me to set up a phone call or one:to:one meeting if you live in the area.
If you loved this post, check out what the rest of my friends whipped up with their Essential Oils. You’ve got an early start on the Holiday, so make the most of the time to DIY special gifts for your loved ones.
Looking for more DIY Essential Oils Projects? When you buy a Premium Starter Kit this month, you’ll receive a FREE e-book featuring projects from several creative bloggers like Darlene from Fieldstone Hill design. Sign up NOW.