images-2I am really freaky about washing my hair every day. In that it’s really difficult for me to not. I feel strangely disconnected when I don’t, like something’s amiss. This afternoon, it finally hit me as to why. I tried an experiment where I took a shower in the morning, but didn’t wash my hair. I went about my day, trying to tolerate the weirdness and knowing that I could wash my hair later if I felt like I needed to.

By 12 noon I needed to. Bad.

When I did finally make it home to hop into the shower for a second time in the day, I realized that what I was doing was more than lathering, rinsing, and repeating as necessary. Along with expertly massaging my scalp (a technique I learned during a brief stint working in a hair salon), I was clearing my crown chakra, the first place on my body to meet the Universe and the gateway to my connection to the Divine.

Whoah.

No wonder I feel spaced out and disoriented when I skip the shampoo. By clearing the energy at the top of my head I am able to open myself to receive guidance from the Source of Everything. And that makes all the difference in my day.

Want to learn more about all of your chakras and how you can clear and energize them for yourself and others? Join me at my newest workshop, Energy Healing Through The Chakras. Click here for more info!

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Let’s Talk Tapas

by Stacey

candlestoneSome could look at my yoga practice and say it was frivolous.

Seeing me reclining, propped up on cushions, covered in blankets, eyes closed, a peaceful smile on my lips, they might question my motives. I mean, really, shouldn’t I, as a curvy girl, be pushing myself hard to burn every calorie possible? Where is my desire for a yoga butt and tight, flat abs? Don’t I want to fit into those little bra tops and crazy patterned yoga pants? And shouldn’t I be striving for the ultimate pose? (BTW, I’m not even sure what exactly that is.)

The truth is, my yoga practice is my safe haven from all of that.

My yoga practice is free of judgment, guilt, and shame. There is no striving for perfection here. My practice is luxurious. Each posture is another opportunity to experience my body in a new way – the luscious feeling of muscles softening, unwinding, and lengthening. The chance to slow down and observe my thoughts. The time to be, just as I am, in a culture that is built on constantly trying to be more and better and new and improved.

So at this moment you’re probably rolling your eyes at what a pollyannaish approach to practice I’m espousing. I’m sure it sounds pretty sweet and easy – just roll out your mat, lean back on some blankets, close your eyes, and voila! you’ve reached nirvana.

If only it were that simple.

The Sanskrit word tapas, when used as a noun, is translated as heat or fire, and as a verb, means to hurt or cause pain. In some yoga lineages, tapas is conveyed as a discipline, similar to the ideology of “No pain, No gain”. In order to attain liberation, one must master their body and mind to overcome suffering, sublimating the body’s distress signals and ignoring intense feelings. Others approach tapas as a form of penance, atoning for sins of the past, which can create a sense of inadequacy, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. Both may easily foster feelings of disconnection from and betrayal by the body, especially for anyone with a history of trauma.

Swami Kripalu, for whom my lineage is named, expressed tapas as the feeling of friction that occurs when one goes against the grain. As a tantric hatha yoga practitioner, it’s my job to go against the grain, to experience and absorb the sensations that arise, and to act from the knowledge I receive.

Sitting in the discomfort of tapas, I become stronger and can apply that strength in all areas of my life.

But what exactly is the grain? We live in a culture of often jarring incongruence, and the information overload we experience on a daily basis is confounding. How do you know what to believe? How do you know what to do?

It is up to each one of us to choose for ourselves.

You are the only one who can feel yourself from the inside out. It’s not easy to go against the voice of our culture that expects us to be in perpetual motion, to the point of wearing wrist bands that count our steps and constantly monitor our heart rate.

My yoga practice teaches me to trust my instinct, even when my instinct tells me to lay on the floor, supported by bolsters and covered in blankets.

Because on other days, my instinct leads me to take a walk, or go for a swim, or dance my face off. Over time, my tapas has become the act of turning down the volume on the rather shouty committee that lives in my head, criticizing my every move and instead listening to that small, still one that seems to have a more rational view.

And that has made all the difference.

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It Doesn’t Matter

April 27, 2015

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t practiced in a day a week a month or more than a year.   that you have money in the bank or none at all.   a full time job that pays your bills on time or freelance gigs that make you rely on faith.   It doesn’t matter […]

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my devotional practice

November 20, 2014

Your spiritual practice is your practice. No one can do it like you. And no one can do it for you. That being said, we are encouraged to have a spiritual practice that ‘looks’ like something so others can see that we’re doing it. My spiritual practice is very much like the one Amy Palko […]

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My .03

August 8, 2014

The other day while I was in the bathroom at Whole Foods I looked down at the floor and saw a penny. Then another. And another. And while I usually pick pennies up off the ground as a sign from the Universe that money comes to me easily and effortlessly, this time I didn’t. And […]

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Living Beyond Expectations

July 16, 2014

I taught an outdoor yoga class for the Atlanta Regional Commission Living Beyond Expectations event! Click here to check it out.

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Truth

July 12, 2014
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Putting the Re in Retrograde

July 4, 2014

We recently came out of a Mercury Retrograde, a time when people in the New Age and other spiritual communities generally freak the hell out. I’ve been told to avoid signing contracts, expect travel to be difficult, cars to crash, and arguments to ensue during a retrograde period. To some, the best thing to do […]

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