ain’t nothing new…

Last year I became a certified Reflexologist.  I love doing the work.  For most of last year I worked with a friend who went through chemo, surgery, and finally radiation for breast cancer.  She said…“I could not have made it through my ordeal this year without you.  Your mojo is what balanced out all the scary medical stuff.  I knew I could get through, but relaxing as you did your thing was one of the only times my mind was clear enough to truly embody that message.”

I became a Reflexologist #1, because I was inspired by some awesome reflexology I received in India and #2, I wanted to learn something new and different.

But the bottom line is…

Nothing new under the sun… all it is is re wrapped and sold in a different language

I also do what I call “Shamanic Energy Work” (I use the word Shamanic because I’m Native) but there’s a ton of energy healing modalities out there.  Reiki, Quantum Touch, Reconnective Healing.  Same same but different as we say in India.  Aint’ nothing new.  Energy is energy.

It’s so true that there is nothing new under the sun.  I’ve been teaching Yoga since 2002. Today I looked at the Omega and Kripalu offerings just to see what’s what.  My first thought was, “I’ve been teaching these same things for 15 years.”

“Trauma sensitive yoga? I was teaching Yoga in a domestic violence shelter long before anyone even heard of Dave Emerson or “trauma sensitive yoga.”  Other than learning about the physiological aspects of trauma in the body, the training was a rehash of what I had already learned in the Krishnamacharya Yoga tradition.

“Introduction to Yin Yoga”?  I was one of the first Yin Yoga teachers in the Chicago area and taught classes and workshops at least 12 years ago.  I brought Yin Yoga to the Yoga community in Arusha, Tanzania in 2010.

Sorry J. Brown, but I was teaching “slow yoga” before it became a thing.  Breath-centered Yoga?  Starting teaching that way in 2005 and ever since.

“Mindful Yoga”?  I was in the first Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock in California 2007-2009.  Combining the Buddhadharma and Yoga in my classes felt right to me before I took that training.

“Therapeutic Yoga”?  I offered a workshop on Yoga in the Krishnamacharya Tradition for Yoga teachers after my first time at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in 2005.  No one signed up.  Not one teacher at the studio where I taught at the time was interested.

Ain’t nothin’ new, kids.  The only thing is that those teaching at places like Kripalu and Omega can market themselves a hell of a lot better than I can.

As a long ago private student told me, it’s hard being a pioneer because pioneers get the arrows shot up their asses.  Much easier to follow the leader.

Like anything else, I see a lot of people running after that new, best thing.  It’s always been there, right in front of you.

Look for the Yoga Elder in your neighborhood.  You might be surprised at what you find in the deep hole you dig once you stop digging the shallow ones.

arf-arf! recommended by da' Dawg...

 

 

do I need to be anointed to be credible?

 

So much goes on in the Modern Yoga World (TM) now that it’s hard to keep up without it sounding like a constant rant.  Maybe I should just write about what actor or rock star does yoga, post a photo of them drinking a latte with a mat under their arm, and comment on what brand yoga pants they wear.  That would really be so much easier and would probably get me more readers.  But I digress.

I’m sure by now many of you have heard about the Yoga Alliance stance on using terms such as “yoga therapy” or “therapeutic yoga” or anything that sounds like a teacher has anything to do with “healing” or “medicine” or even “alleviating.”  You can can go on their site and see the restricted words.  As someone who worked for litigation lawyers for 20 years I know it was a CYA (“cover your ass”) move.

The policy does not only apply to your YA profile but also to your personal website IF you are YA registered.  Don’t register with the YA and you can say whatever you want about what you do or how you teach.

I am now an E-RYT 500 teacher with the YA and also an official “Continuing Education Provider.”  Yes, yes, yes, I know — I ranted for years about the Yoga Alliance, I totally own that.  You can read what I wrote in 2011 here when I was a mere E-RYT 200.

But the fact remains that there are those WHO WILL NOT STUDY OR TRAIN WITH A TEACHER UNLESS THEY ARE ANOINTED BY THE YOGA ALLIANCE.  I resisted reinstating my YA registration for years and finally broke down.  Of the teachers I know who also consider the YA useless and a waste of money, 100% say that the reason they pay up is because of the above reason.  The teacher training I took at the old school Chicago studio where I originally certified in 2002 was never YA registered until people starting asking the owner whether his training was YA registered.

The fact is that I re-joined the YA purely for marketing reasons, not because I think it means anything.  The fact is that after teaching for 15 years, training for 10 years in India, and being featured in a book, I am a yoga nobody where I live so if the YA seals give me “credibility” and “presence”, so be it.

I do not have the luxury of owning a studio that can attract students.  And yes, if you are surviving and making money with a yoga studio that IS a luxury in today’s yoga business market, consider yourself lucky.  I live in a town of 25,000 and there are three studios besides a park district that offers yoga.  Fifteen years ago when I started teaching and basically knew nothing, I had 40 students in another park district’s class.  Now I am lucky if I have five students who show up consistently.  Those students don’t care about the YA but if I can get teachers who want more training by using the YA seal, I am going to use it to my advantage.  It ain’t personal, it’s business, baby.

Cora Wen told me that back in 2001 Judith Lasater told her: “Every profession has an organisation and YA looks like they are winning in the registry.  Get the certificate now.  Or you will one day have to pay someone less qualified than you are to get a certificate.”

There ya go.  Like I said….

YACEP

Now the International Association of Yoga Therapists has rolled out their “certification” for yoga therapists.  I’ve been an IAYT member for years and even wrote an article for their journal on teaching trauma sensitive yoga.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think there should be some type of measure of a yoga teacher’s ability just as there is a measure for massage therapists, for example.  And yes, I know MTs are licensed which I absolutely do not agree with for yoga teachers.  But for these paid for labels to be the be-all and end-all and the only thing that makes a teacher worthy in the public eye makes me very itchy.

I looked into the IAYT certification process but I don’t have the proof that in all the intensives I took at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram that there was any “yoga therapy” involved.  But there was because there always is something about yoga therapeutics beyond asana practice.

What got me thinking about all of this was the article “Are We Entering a Golden Age of Yoga Therapy??” by Eden Goldman.  According to Goldman’s quote…

“Yoga Therapy is the philosophy, art, and science of adapting classical Yoga techniques to contemporary situations to support people with physical, mental, and emotional ailments. According to the definition of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), “Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.”

Practically speaking, Yoga Therapy is the reinvention of a personalized Yoga experience where the practice is modified to meet the individual’s ever-changing needs. Since ancient times, adaptability in one’s teaching, practice, and approach has rested at the heart of Yoga’s most fundamental influence: the relationship, insights, and trust created through the practice by one teacher working with one student.”

…I’ve been a “yoga therapist” for 10+ years.  Do I still need to be anointed by the IAYT to be credible?

I’ve done 10 years of many intensives at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, multiple yoga therapy trainings including two levels of Phoenix Rising, 300 hours of Svastha Yoga Therapy with Dr. Ganesh Mohan, a Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors training at Duke University, and trauma sensitive yoga.  Besides teaching in India and Africa.

Can I call myself a “master teacher”?  You tell me.

Do I still need the YA and IAYT seals on my website to prove my worth to the rest of the world?

It’s become crystal clear to me that the name of the game in the Modern Yoga World is MARKETING because no one gives a damn about all of the above.  I don’t have the $6,000 that I need to upgrade my website to grab SEO and make it the latest and greatest Yoga Business site.  It’s much cheaper for me to lose myself in South India and hang a shingle that says “YOGA TEACHER TRAINING.”

In my 15 years of teaching I’ve never put myself out there as a “yoga therapist” because I believe all yoga can be therapeutic if applied in a beneficial manner.  Even Bikram Yoga was beneficial to the Vietnam War vet who spoke to us about his PTSD when I did the trauma sensitive yoga training.

I’ve always said that no one called Krishnamacharya a yoga therapist, he taught YOGA.

Krishnamacharya’s principle was “Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other.“  He taught that Yoga should always be adapted to the unique needs of each individual.

Does one who jumps through the hoops and pays for the IAYT “certification” automatically know more or is more capable of supporting or empowering someone than I am?  The buying of labels has been problematic for me for years. It’s the same old story: people will study with a Yoga Alliance or IAYT labeled teacher before they will with someone who has the years of experience.

In the end, I don’t need validation.
I know what I offer.

But then in this Modern Yoga day and age there is this passing itself off as “Yoga Medicine.”  Yes, you CAN think yourself thin AND sexy!

It’s Tara Stiles’ Slim Calm Sexy Yoga all over again.  Just use the word “meditate” and it makes it all credible and so deliciously New Age.

THAT POST IS EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH MODERN YOGA.

Women with eating disorders feel bad enough about themselves already, how much worse will they feel if they can’t “think themselves thin”?  At least she didn’t mention bra fat.

How is this in any way empowering?  I’m all about mindful eating and eating healthy foods, but the buzzwords used by this “master yoga teacher and specialist in sports and Chinese medicine” are what is typically found on a magazine cover at your grocery store check out line, the same bullshit that sounds like “LOSE YOUR BELLY FAT IN 5 EASY YOGA MOVES!”

No wonder us old school teachers throw in the towel

Funny.  I did not see the Yoga Alliance or IAYT seals on her website.  Anywhere.

Without them you can say whatever you want to say about yoga.

Sri Desikachar has died – June 21, 1938 – August 8, 2016

“The light has expanded and is continuing to guide us beyond boundaries of space and time.

After an extraordinary life of service and healing, Sir TKV Desikachar reached the lotus feet of the lord on 08 August 2016 at 2.45am India Time.

The family is making arrangements for the funeral following the traditional Indian scriptures. An international memorial meeting to honor him will be conducted later in the year, where his students from around the world can participate. Details of this will be communicated in time.

At this current moment, we request you all to hold him in your prayers and celebrate his wonderful contributions to the fields of Yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Spirituality.”
— Kausthub Desikachar

IMG_0150
My first Vedic Chant class, KYM, September 2005

Photo ©Metta Yoga: Mind-Body Education 2016

I became a Yoga teacher in 2002.  Three years later in 2005 I did my first trip to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.  I have studied at KYM every year since then and also with some of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s direct students.

Looking back I know now that before I went to KYM I floundered around as a teacher from 2002-2005.  In 2005 it all synced.  It synced when I heard Sir say “we begin where we are and how we are, and whatever happens, happens.”  My life and my Yoga were changed.

When I returned home in 2005 I was so excited about what I learned that like a religious convert I wanted to spread the Good News.  So I created a workshop in “Krishnamacharya Yoga” for the studio where I was teaching in far west suburban Chicago.  I geared it toward the teachers and seasoned students.

No one signed up.

I remember being shocked that even Yoga teachers did not know who Krishnamacharya was and did not know about what was then called the Viniyoga approach of teaching to the individual.

I wonder how many newbie Yoga teachers now, in this age of 200 hour teacher trainings in every studio on every block, know about Sri Desikachar.

I can tell you from experience that few (again, in MY experience) know about the slow, deliberate breath centered style of Yoga that Sir taught.  Last year when I was at a KYM intensive a student came up to me at the end of the first week and said, “You’ve been here many times so I want to ask a question….”  I knew what he was about to ask because I had heard it before: “Do the classes get any faster?”

I smiled.  “No.  If you’ve come here looking for an American style vinyasa class you’ve come to the wrong place.”

He did not return for the second week.

When I took the Trauma Sensitive Yoga training taught by Dave Emerson at The Trauma Institute, I realized on the first day that what he was teaching was recycled “Krishnamacharya Yoga”, i.e., breath centered Yoga.  Other than the physiological information about how trauma affects the brain and the body, it was nothing new to me.  If it was not for Sri Desikachar and the idea of teaching to the individual, I believe there would not be the “trauma sensitive yoga” trainings that there are today.

Weeping.

A true Yoga Master has died.

I remember how nervous I was to chant a few lines from the Gayatri Mantra for him the first time.

I remember Sir’s free public talks on the Sutras or Sanskrit or any other Yoga topic on Saturday mornings in Chennai.

From a blog post I wrote in 2006 after my second trip to KYM.  I believe the intensive was called “The Power of Yoga”:

“The teachers keep emphasizing how personal transformation is the true goal of yoga, not getting the yoga butt or abs, but personal transformation, changing our states of mind, replacing negative tendencies with positive ones, and connecting to the True Self, how ultimately this can not be done in a group yoga class, it can only be done one-on-one with a teacher, as Krishnamacharya taught.

They showed us the sequence on how to teach the bandhas, starting with jalandhara going down to mulabandha, and how people should be able to inhale and exhale at least to a count of 10 or 12, before even attempting to work with the bandhas. Also told us about contraindications. Again, once more this emphasized for me what NOT to teach in a group class because everyone is different and everyone will have a different reaction to it — uddiyana bandha aggravates vata for example.

We were told that Krishnamacharya did not believe in kriyas. He said pranayama practice — properly done — was effective enough to cleanse the body of impurities. Desikachar was with us last night and he told us stories of his father, about how Krishnamacharya stopped his own heart for 2 minutes — it was then that Desikachar took up the practice of yoga, when he saw the power of it.”

May his teachings live on in his students around the world.

May Sir have a fortunate rebirth.

what are they teaching out there?

depaul panel

 

The other night I was one of the speakers on this panel discussion in Chicago. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I was invited to be on this panel by The Breathe Network.  The Breathe Network is an excellent online resource for trauma survivors looking for practitioners of holistic modalities and I am proud to be a member.

It was a great event with a big turnout. The other three presenters spoke about their modalities, Biofeedback, Holistic Psychotherapy, and Reiki. I learned from all three presenters and what was interesting was that we all had a single thing in common, as noted by the moderator:  the BREATH and HOW WE BREATHE can change things for us mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Many of you know that I am a long time student (10+ years) in the Krishnamacharya Yoga tradition and that the Yoga I teach is all about the breath, a breath centered practice.  I have seen how conscious breathwork can change lives.  Yes, literally, such as with trauma survivors and people with anxiety attacks and major stress.  They learn to self-regulate just as the ancient yogis, the sramanas, discovered that asana and breath can regulate their internal systems.

“Trauma sensitive” and “trauma informed” Yoga are buzzwords in modern Yoga but when I did my four day Trauma Sensitive Yoga training at The Trauma Institute, I realized how the training was a retooling of what I learned at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram insofar as therapeutic yoga.  It was nothing new to me.  The only thing new was the information about the physiology of trauma, the parts of the brain that are affected, and some languaging, the “technical” stuff.

Before I did that training in 2011 I had already been teaching for 6 years to survivors at a domestic violence shelter starting in 2005.  I intuitively knew that what I had learned in India and from my own insight meditation practice would help them.  And it did, tremendously — because it was a breath centered Yoga practice.  The survivors learned how to be in charge of their own physiological systems.

After our 90 minute discussion we had breakout groups where attendees could ask us questions.  I had handouts of articles (one that I wrote) about how Yoga helps with PTSD.  More than a few young people (“young” meaning college age students) took my handouts and then it got interesting — they started telling me about their experiences in Yoga studios.  Note that this was in Chicago so they were talking to me about studios there.

I preface what comes next by saying that I no longer attend public Yoga classes so I don’t know what people are teaching nowadays.  If I do go to a studio it will be to my teacher’s class at the studio where I certified as a teacher 15 years ago (one of the first studios to open in Chicago.)

I take that back — I DID go to a class just last week.  It was a gong meditation plus Yoga class and one of my students came with me.  I know that every teacher is trained differently, has his/her own style, and I am 200% sure there are many who would hate my classes and probably with a vengeance.  But I was stunned at the practice.  Shocked even.

The teacher was also a “woman of a certain age” and whom I know has been teaching longer than me.  There was absolutely no attention paid to the breath.  In fact, I could not even catch my breath because the sun salutation was so fast.  I decided (of course!) to move at my pace with my own breath ratio.

My long time student was incredulous and instead of a calming, grounding practice to go into an hour long gong session (by the way, I was NOT expecting a gentle or restorative practice, just a more mindful one) I felt completely agitated.  This is the reason why I no longer attend public classes taught by teachers whose teaching styles I don’t know.

Each person at my table at DePaul asked me “where do I find a class as you describe?”  Because EACH student told me “I take Yoga but …”  It’s “competitive.”  A “work out.”  “No one talks about the breath.” “I feel intimidated.”  “How should I breathe?”  “They don’t teach meditation.”  If I lived in Chicago instead of 40 miles away I’d probably have a dozen new students now.

Finally, what made me sad was a trauma survivor who told me she went through a teacher training program at a corporate Yoga studio chain.  I won’t say which one but they are all over Chicago and other big cities.  Many times they open down the street from independent studios.

She told me that she went there looking for a more meditative, what she called “spiritual,” YTT.  Instead, she told me the training triggered her PTSD, so much so that she completely stopped her own Yoga practice.  What was worse, she told me, that when she tried to tell her trainers what was happening with her, no one knew how to help her.

She finished the training but no longer practices.  She told me that in order to teach she knows she has to work on herself.  She asked me how to get back on the Yoga horse.  I said slowly and recommended Sarah Powers’ book, Insight Yoga, and her DVDs.  I gave her my card, it was all I could do, and told her to contact me if she got stuck.

After listening to the questions and comments, I was re-inspired to create a teacher training so I had better get my ASSana in gear before I go to India in November.  But I am SO STUCK, I don’t know where to start.  Mainly because I don’t know where to begin in writing a manual.  You can’t charge $3,000 for a training and not have a manual, people expect one after dishing out the dough.  But I only know how to teach OLD SCHOOL, the way I am taught in India.  You sit down, listen, and take notes.  In all my years at KYM the only handouts I have are from asana and meditation classes.  Ten plus years of notes will make a kick ass YTT.  I’ve already decided that this book will be the class text.

But when the day comes when I have a Metta Yoga: Mind-Body Education training you can bet your ASSana that I will have sliding scale payment for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and vets with PTSD.

What the hell are they teaching out there?

 

 

 

 

Yoga for Emotional Balance — Chicago Training, May 1-3, 2015

survivor“Trauma sensitive” or “trauma informed” Yoga is the new buzzword in Yoga training.

Whether for domestic violence survivors, sexual assault survivors, or military vets with PTSD, Yoga for trauma survivors seems to be all over the place and that’s a good thing.

If you’re in the Chicago area you can take my training at Ganesha Yoga and Adventures in Fitness at 3113 North Lincon Avenue.  I originally planned to offer this training in my shala in the far western suburbs but received no interest whatsoever and frankly, that astounds me.  I am grateful to the studio owner in Chicago for hosting me and I am excited to teach in Chicago again!  You can read some of my blog posts on trauma sensitive Yoga here. 

Here are the details:

 YOGA FOR EMOTIONAL  BALANCE

This ground-breaking weekend training utilizes Trauma Sensitive Yoga and Yin Yoga therapeutics.  Each day includes lecture and discussion and body awareness practice via Yoga and guided meditations.

Many people experience a traumatic event and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The number of diagnosed military PTSD cases has jumped 50% and many go unreported.  According to the American Medical Association sexual violence is the most under-reported crime.  People have been in car accidents, have witnessed violence in abusive households, or have lost a loved one and experience traumatic grief.  Yoga combined with talk therapy can be doubly effective in lessening traumatic responses.

THESE ARE OUR STUDENTS.  Because trauma is held in the body I believe every Yoga teacher should be informed about trauma phenomena — odds are that there is a trauma survivor in class.  This training is designed for Yoga teachers, Yoga teacher trainees, and clinicians who work with trauma survivors.  Required reading is Linda’s article “Compassionate Presence: Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga” in Yoga Therapy Today: https://mettayoga.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/ytt-summer-insight.pdf

Some of the topics included in this weekend training are:

  • What is PTSD?
  • Yoga as therapy for PTSD
  • How to teach yoga to trauma survivors using asana, pranayama, and mantra
  • Trauma triggers, using props, inclusive language, adjustments
  • Taking Mindfulness to the mat
  • Liver (anger) and Kidney (fear) Meridian theory in Yin Yoga practice
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation practice

MAY 1-3, 2015
Friday night, 6-9 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10-1 pm and 3-6 pm
Early bird pricing $395.00 before April 1, 2015, $450 after April 1, 2015

$150 deposit holds your space and is refundable until April 15, 2015 minus $75 cancellation fee
No refunds after April 15, 2015 

GANESHA YOGA AND ADVENTURES IN FITNESS
3113 NORTH LINCOLN AVE., CHICAGO, IL

773-904-7870

YOGA ALLIANCE CEUs AVAILABLE

“Linda has been called a maverick, an innovator, and a facilitator of deep healing.  Seeking a paradigm shift in the local Yoga scene, she takes students beyond asana into the deeper dimensions of traditional Yoga.  Linda trained for 9 years in the Krishnamacharya Yoga tradition in Vinyasa Krama and Yoga Therapy both here and in India.  She has taught in Africa and India, was one of the first Yin Yoga teachers in the Chicago area, and is certified by The Trauma Center in Massachusetts in Trauma Sensitive Yoga.  She is humbled and honored to be featured in the 2014 book “Conversations with Modern Yogis.””

teaching trauma sensitive yoga

Last year I wrote a three part series on trauma sensitive yoga after my training at The Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I posted the series on the LinkedIn page of the International Association of Yoga Therapists  and shortly thereafter Kelly Birch, the editor of Yoga Therapy Today (IAYT’s magazine for members), asked me to write an article.  I was honored (and humbled) to be asked!

My article, Compassionate Presence: Teaching Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, has finally been published in the current issue (Summer 2012.)  And let me tell you, it is damn hard writing for someone else!  I now know the value of a good editor because Kelly was fantastic.  I am even more honored to be in a magazine that also has an article about the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

At this point in time only IAYT members can access the site to read the article, but you can download the .pdf from the above link.  Please share it with someone whom you think might benefit.   Kausthub Desikachar told us in one of my trainings that we must share what we have learned, otherwise we are nothing more than thieves, taking and not giving.

For me, real yoga is about personal transformation and healing.  My long time readers know that I teach at a domestic violence shelter and some of the women have started to come to me for classes.  Coincidentally, the day I received word that Yoga Therapy Today was being mailed out, I received a call from a woman suffering from PTSD because of an incident four years ago.   She had googled “trauma sensitive yoga” in the Chicago area but was concerned that maybe I would not drive almost an hour to see her.  The drive did not concern me because after I talked with her I knew yoga would help.

As I wrote a practice for her, a voice told me, “give her a mantra”, something which I’ve never done before with a private student.   Somehow I knew she would connect with a mantra.  We met, she did the practice, and I gave her pranayama and the mantra, OM JYOTI AHAM — “I am the Divine Light.”

The change was noticeable after the practice.  She looked lighter and happier and her eyes were brighter compared to when I walked in.   She smiled and said that it was the calmest she had felt in four years even though she takes medication.   I told her that all I did was give her a road map pointing the way out, now she has to drive.  I told her that she had to something from practice every day, even if it is merely sitting and watching her breath.  She wants to continue working with me once a week.

Humbled, honored to do this work — who needs to be a yoga rock star?  This is priceless.

on the wings of angels

“In every community there is work to be done.  In every nation there are wounds to heal.  In every heart there is the power to do it.” — Marianne Williamson

Three women from the domestic violence shelter came to my home shala this week.  They’ve known me from the shelter since 2004.  But I am only there once a month.  They want more, and since the shelter can’t give them more yoga, they came to see me.  I’ve opened my home to them.  I won’t charge them what I usually charge for private yoga, so I tell them to pay me what they can afford.  I don’t care.

They know what real yoga does, what it’s used for.

Healing.

Transformation.

That’s what they were seeking.

She called me because she wanted relief from her anxiety attacks.  She wants to be able to sleep.  She had been doing well but took a few steps back.  She went to the doctor because she thought she was having a heart attack.  The doctor ran tests and told her she was fine.   She gave her pills and told her to see a psychiatrist.   But she did not want pills or the psychiatrist, she wanted yoga, so she called me.

We talked a long time, she told me her stories, what she has been dealing with.  I understood completely.  Two steps forward, a few steps back.

I told her how so many people live their lives in fear or anger, sometimes both.  We’re mad at the past, afraid of the future, never right here, right now, just this.  Only this.  She understood, she’s heard me before, she just needed to be reminded of Buddha’s teachings on the two arrows of suffering.  I told her to drop the hot coal.

I give what is needed to heal.  I dose intuitively as any good medicine woman does.  I flow as I am directed.  No asana needed right now, only a heart opening.  I placed a bolster under her to expand the chest, some blankets under the arms and head and asked her only to breath, to make the exhales longer than the inhales.  When you teach someone a healing pranayama, miracles can happen.  I gave her a visualization.

And then they came.

I am also an energy worker, a clairaudient, very sensitive to energy changes.  My yoga room has an ananda vibe, everyone says so.  She said that sometimes new places make her anxious but she felt safe here.  It’s good to feel safe with someone you know but don’t know.

The windows were open and I heard the wind rise, the wind chimes started to ring furiously.  I felt the change, I heard the swoop, and knew we were surrounded.  She was surrounded.  My voice sounded disembodied and I felt pressure on my arms as if someone was touching me.  When I am do energy work my hands heat up and vibrate, but I wasn’t touching her.

I don’t know how long she was on the bolster, I don’t know how long I spoke about healing the heart.

All I knew was that it was just the two of us again.

After she sat up I asked how she felt and before she said anything I told her, “you were surrounded by angels.”   I surprised myself when I said that, but I knew it as strongly as I know my own name.  I said that the concept of angel guides had never resonated with me until I had some powerful energy work myself and then I believed.  I told her to call them what she wanted…angels, light workers, spirit guides,  it doesn’t matter because those are only labels.

She looked changed, lighter, brighter.  Happy.  She said at one point that even though her eyes were closed she saw a ball of white light surrounding her and the peace she felt was extraordinary.  She said she knew now how to reach that place again.

And then she started to cry.

“Healing is not, after all, the same as curing. Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather of allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” — Ram Dass