Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating the Sacred Feminine

I attended a workshop at Yoga North recently called, "Down There." It was a wonderful educational experience and revolved around the pelvic floor, the net of muscles at the bottom of the pelvis that support our internal musco-skeletal structures and hold the contents of the pelvis securely in place. I'm speaking of the muscles that surround the urethra, vagina, anus and run from the pubic bone to the tail bone.

This group of muscles a long with others in the inner and outer thigh, spine and diaphragm work together to create mobility, stability and strength in the body-very important in any yoga pose or day to day activity. If we fail to bring awareness to these muscles, as women specifically, we risk possible incontinence or weakness that becomes so endemic that our vaginas can lose elasticity and fall out like a tube sock. Shocking, yes, but more common than you think. But I don't want to talk about that today.

I want to talk about why women in our culture lack awareness of or are afraid of their pelvic floor.

For starters, it isn't easy to talk about vaginas in a patriarchal culture that has a religious tradition that shames the female form, calling it unclean or dirty. The blood we shed each month (the only blood that comes out of a human body that isn't from a wound) has been deemed shameful as well, and so we suffer (I mean seriously, how many times have I hid a tampon up my shirt sleeve as I have skulked away to the bathroom?).

Hiding what is rightfully ours to covet as a sacred time is common practice and in so doing we suffer from a lack of celebratory awareness of the very things that make us female. We suffer in the pain of childbirth, menstruation, menopause and in the cultural norm of being crazy PMSing lunatics that shop in the "sanitary" aisle.

No wonder our vaginas fall out.

Coming into sacred contact with my pelvic floor has led me to question these common practices of shame and avoidance and crazy making. What if instead of believing that I am crazy during the time of my cycle, I were to ask myself what truth is embedded when I am more connected to my emotions and my body? What would happen if I were to begin to believe that through my cycle I am more whole, sacred, connected and that led to more awareness, balance, and strength in my body?

And no, this isn't the time of "The Red Tent," that wonderful book where women all cycled together and spent their time in a tent rubbing each other's feet and drinking wine. We are expected to continue as normal, as if we aren't more in tune or uncomfortable or sleepy or crampy or irritated because we might be confusing truth with bloating.

So how then can we honor what is rightfully ours to uphold when society does not allow for it? How can we expand our lives as women to include ourselves in the sacredness of the feminine?

I have heard and practiced several things over the years:

*Lighting a candle at the beginning of your cycle and allowing it to burn for the full 5-7 days. (This can also become a household norm so that family and friends are aware that it is your sacred time)

*Doing a personal ritual-hot bath, walk in the moonlight


*And of course, taking a pelvic floor class at Yoga North!

I find in my own body that when I lack awareness of my pelvic floor, I default back to the patriarchy and I start to believe that perhaps it is all just a shameful, annoying mess. I give up, collapse and weakness in my body ensues.

But the more I practice and the more I integrate pelvic floor work and sacred femininity into my life, the more I remember my intuition, my truth and my connection to my body. In turn, the more I experience my practice, the more I gain the benefits of pelvic floor stability in my body's musco-skeletal systems. As within so without...ya know?

I invite you to get curious about your own relationship to the feminine and what that means for where you are in your life and in your yoga practice.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stillness is Boring?

I seek stillness, peace and calm in my day to life. I do yoga, I meditate, I walk in the woods, I sit by the wood stove.

Why then, for god's sake, am I bored? I pondered this with my teacher recently. It went something like this...

My teacher was looking at me in that way she does when she knows I am on the verge of grasping something but am not quite there: with compassion and the fortitude to let me come around to it in my own timing.

I had been complaining again about the boredom in my life, so much quiet time, so much stillness, so much silence. I was feeling uneasy, could feel myself grasping for something, fantasizing about how to reach the heights of thrill through speed, rushing, pushing and doing.

My teacher, she was just smiling. She said, "Just sit with what you call boredom."

"What?" I thought.

"Sit with it, there is something there for you in the word," she went on, still smiling.

I looked at her smiling and a light bulb of epic proportions blinked on in my head, alive and buzzing with the knowing of direct experience. I replied, "Are you saying that I am looking at boredom in the wrong way?"

She said, "Hilary, everything you seek (peace, calm, quiet- a slower life) you have found." And I said, wide eyed, "You mean I've been labeling those things boredom and haven't been aware that I'm already there?!"

She laughed. I laughed in abject surprise. I'm not really bored. I'm peaceful. Only thing is, I've also been addicted to thrill. Which is why peace got confused with boredom.

What a freaking revelation!

And it's no wonder, in a society like ours, so externally focused on the next big thing, material possessions, Hollywood, speed, technology, doing, doing doing, that I got confused when I finally found what I had been looking for.

The valuable lesson that I learned is that BEING does not feel like DOING. BEING just is, it isn't good or bad or boring or thrilling, it just is.

I humorously value the "boredom" in my life much more now and when I feel the pull to seek the thrill, I settle back into my breath, sink a little bit further into being and smile.

I invite you to ask yourself about your own "boredom." You may make some surprising discoveries.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year from Riverview Street

I hope this posting finds all of you well and happy at the beginning of this new year. The dawning of a new year is often a time for hopes, dreams and reflections and sometimes resolutions to do something differently, make a new choice or to set off on a grand adventure.

Kiki and I are in the midst of such a grand adventure, this time on the North Shore, much, much closer to home than India. Kiki is in the middle of training to be an Ayurvedic Practioner and recently completed her Indian Head Massage certification and while I finished the second level of teacher training for Hatha Yoga last year, I just recently completed that certification as well.

All of the work, training and traveling have led us here, to Riverview Street, where yoga classes, Ayurvedic services and massage will be available beginning on Tuesday, January 18.

Tuesday Yoga will be from 6-7P

Wednesday Yoga will be from 5:30-6:30P

*Classes are by donation ($5 suggested)

Kiki will be offering Indian Head Massage and Hot Oil Face and Body massage on Tue, Wed and Fri by appointment.

Please check out our website for an up to date calendar, directions and contact information.

We are looking forward to having you join us on our new adventure!

Happy New Year and Namaste.