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Article for Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

https://kripalu.org/resources/inviting-your-dragon-over-tea-how-prenatal-yoga-helps-relieve-fears-and-anxiety

Inviting Your Dragon Over for Tea:

How Prenatal Yoga Helps Relieve Fears and Anxiety by Stacy Seebart

 

Have you ever been in a yoga class and suddenly your emotions start to run wild? Maybe you’ve been there, holding a pose, and you felt a lump in your throat, and knew you were on the verge of tears. You weren’t particularly thinking of anything sad, nothing terrible had happened in your life recently—but there it was. Full. Raw. Emotions. Right at the surface.

As my friend Nikki Myers says, “The issues are in the tissues, and emotion (e-motion) is just energy in motion.” So it makes sense that, when you practice a body movement therapy such as yoga, emotions are bound to come up and want to move.

Now, imagine you are in yoga class and you are pregnant. Your hormones are changing rapidly, your body doesn’t feel like it’s under your control, and you have so many new things to think about: How will I birth my baby? Will my baby be healthy? How will I deal with the pain of labor? What if I have to have a C-section? How can I be that vulnerable in front of so many people?

During our prenatal yoga classes, we address this head on. Emotions and vulnerability can often be worked with on the mat and through sharing in community. This allows that feeling of “I’m all alone” to dissipate. Having a few moments at the beginning of class to give voice to your present fears or emotions can move the energy. Many times, just being heard—or hearing your own fear being voiced by another expecting mom—can alleviate the intensity.

This is what we call “inviting your dragon over for tea.” We talk about the scary parts, give voice to them, and get familiar with the big fears. When a group of women come together to share in a sacred space, a lot of healing can happen even before you do your first Downward Dog.

Then the movement part of class begins. Going inward, witnessing what is showing up, saying hello to the triggers, emotions, challenges, fears, all of it. When you welcome these moments into your practice, it gives you a chance to step back a bit and witness. It decreases the feeling that the emotion will swallow you up. The triggers or fears become so familiar you can almost laugh at them: “Oh hello, fear of failure, nice to see you again.” 

Then we focus on the breath. Engaging conscious breath, while feeling and witnessing your prenatal version of Warrior II, is great training for tapping into the tools that can help you face the challenges ahead. Each inhale and exhale is an opportunity to go into the sensations, thoughts, or emotions rather than running away from them.

You wouldn’t run a marathon without doing some training first, right? Prenatal yoga is body, mind, and soul training for labor and birth. Presence, breath, community. No matter when you begin your prenatal yoga practice, time on the mat can create new habits for dealing with fear, lack of control, pain, and vulnerability. And the community of support that is created when a group of women share what they are going through is just as powerful and cathartic as a sweaty vinyasa class. 

From the Archives- Blog on Welcome Baby Care

Prenatal and Postpartum Health: The Benefits of Meditation

https://www.welcomebabycare.com/2013/02/08/prenatal-postpartum-health-benefits-meditation/

By Stacy Seebart

“Meditation training begins with the first yoga class, the moment the teacher says, ‘Close your eyes and go inside’.  This simple invitation to go inward is an opportunity to begin to notice our experience.”  – Don Stapleton, Ph.D.

Asanas (yoga postures) open up the body so we can breath more effectively. We focus on our breathing to connect deeper with in and explore our internal universe.  We meditate so that we can clear our minds. Clearing and calming the mind will bring the body, mind, and spirit towards balance.

Science and Meditation

Scientific studies can show us charts, percentages, and statistics showing us evidence that meditation is beneficial for our whole physiological system. Meditation is especially beneficial to our nervous and endocrine systems. We know that the endocrine system is responsible for producing hormones. During pregnancy and during the postnatal period the production and influx of hormones is at the greatest than in any other time of life.

Stress and anxiety (like what might occur during the major life change of becoming a mother) produces hormones called cortisol and adrenaline.  These stress hormones can weaken the immune system.  Stress can also spike blood pressure levels- which could contribute to a condition some women have during pregnancy called preeclampsia. Meditation can significantly reduce blood pressure levels, boost immunity and create balanced hormones.  One of the first important health effects of meditation to be discovered by modern medicine was that it lowers blood pressure.  Today there is strong evidence that meditation helps lower blood pressure and heart rate.  The findings have been replicated in many studies. (Murphy and Donovan, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation, IONS, 1999. calmbirth.org)

Meditation produces the ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins (pain reducing) and melatonin (relaxing).  Wouldn’t you like to experience your life with reduced pain and feeling a bit more relaxed?

Generating Positivity

Scientific medical facts aside- there has long been the practice used by yogis on using imagery during meditation.  These ideas are not new.  Visualizing a safe, healthy body, visualizing a safe and supportive home.  Manifesting, projecting, breathing in and breathing out positivity.

“What you think you will become.” – Buddha.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” -Gandhi.

We All Want to Feel Good

The “feel good’ hormones start moving through your system, your heart rate decreases, anxiety melts away and you start to feel connected.  Not only do you feel more connected to your body on the inside but a deeper connection to all that is around you.  We know that pregnancy and the postpartum period can be an isolating time for many new mothers.  Meditation allows you to find a connection that is beyond just your physical form.  You get a sense of well being that is greater than yourself.  Some call it faith, support from their higher self, connection to the cosmos or to ancestors.  Whatever that connection is that you find-you start to realize that you are not alone.  Your body begins to believe your positive thoughts—how strong, capable and supported you are.

Balanced hormones, physiological changes, decreased blood pressure, connection, and relaxation!  The practice of meditation covers it all.  Science will guarantee that you will have less stress and anxiety (more endorphins and melatonin, less adrenaline and cortisol) if you have a regular meditation practice.

Often we focus so much on the physical and not so much on the mental aspects of ourselves. To create wholeness and a more balanced life in all areas- start your meditation practice today.

To get started, here are some tips to inspire more relaxation during meditation:

  1. Find a style that fits your personality—seated with the eyes closed, sitting outside in nature, or gazing at a burning candle flame.
  2. Find a quiet environment—turn your cell phone ringer off, put out a ‘do not disturb’ sign, and go someplace where you cannot be bothered.
  3. Find a comfortable position—this will come with time.  In the beginning your body might reveal aches and pains until you get used to sitting for longer periods of time.  This is where the yoga (asana) practice helps out so much.
  4. Have a passive attitude—you do not have to accomplish anything; there is no place to ‘get to’ while meditating.
  5. Be fluid—when your thoughts start to wander and come into your awareness, notice them like floating clouds in the sky; let them float away and keep returning back to your breath.

Happy Meditating!  Remind yourself before and after you meditate of the many positive health benefits. This will help meditation become a part of your daily life.  ~Namaste~

 

 

 

7 Sacred Truths

Thank you Pattabhi Jois. Getting back to the basics. 

I came across this and as things sometimes do- slap you in the face the exact moment you need to read it.

1. You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.

2. Fear and Pain are our greatest teachers.

3. Laughter and Play are fountains of youth.

4. Exercise and Rest are essential for vibrant health.

5. Touch and Intimacy are basic human needs.

6. Everything is impermanent.

7. Everything is connected.

2007, Playa Guiones

 

School Bells. Church Bells.

Hear them ring.

 

There are two churches with in blocks from my house.  One of which likes to ring at 8:11am. Why that specific time I have no idea.  Every time I hear it I smile.  I’ve had a connection to the sound of a ringing bell since I was a little girl.   The moments in my life growing up that stand out always seem to accompany bell ringing.  Weddings, funerals, Christmas- a lot of energy with that sweet sound.  In my twenties the sound of the church bell would take me to memories of the cobblestone streets of Italy and traveling abroad.   Fast forward a few more years and my more recent memories of the bell ringing go to the Nosara Yoga Institute in Nosara, Costa Rica.  A few years back they built an amazing tower to house this new bell they purchased.  Come to find out it came from an old school house from the 1800’s in Minnesota.

 

At NYI they ring the bell at 6am and 6pm sunrise and sunset when the Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (energy) are at its highest peak during a 24 hour period.   It also helped those late-comers to class get a move on.  This routine and reason for ringing the bell got me thinking about the connection of energy being at its highest and the resonance of the sound itself. 

 

Recently I went through some pretty severe health issues.  Every single time I left a Dr.’s appointment at the Mayo Clinic- of course as if on cue- Bells. Ringing.  It was truly phenomenal- the most random times of day.  8:15pm, 3:20pm, 11:25am.  And not just your quick ding-dong either.  A full on song of bells.  I could only smile, sometimes with teary eyes, as my body had chills taking in the sound.  Shiva and Shakti at its highest- even if the times didn’t match sunrise and sunset, my connection of the sound went straight to thinking about energy and consciousness.  The resonance of higher consciousness. Unseen forces. Angels.  It all started to make sense.  I was entering into a new energy of consciousness not only with my body but with my outlook on life as a whole.  Raising the vibration so-to-speak.  I had immense feelings of connection, peace, and trust even after some pretty scary appointments – all because of the sound of a bell.  There is soooo much that we don’t acknowledge on a daily basis about the unseen forces that influence us all the time.  The energy of a simple bell. The impact of witnessing these moments and how that- in itself- changes us.  Shapes us on an organismic level.  It can heal us.  Can connect us.  How it can raise the vibration of our energy bodies, our ‘prana’ also known as life force.  Next time you hear a bell ringing- pay attention. Smile.  Notice. Check in with yourself.  If you like, you can take on my two most recent mantras (daily affirmations).  Repeat to yourself: You are supported and loved. And everything is happening exactly as it should. 

Wellness Cabinet vs. Medicine Cabinet

Taking a positive outlook on staying healthy is easier than you think.  I’m taking the proactive approach.  The cabinet in my bathroom behind the mirror is lovingly referred to as my ‘wellness cabinet’. I want to continue to fill it up with things that will enhance my well-being rather than holding onto pills and products that are there for when disaster strikes. My cabinet is filled with my super power essential oils, an array of highly potent vitamins and a few face products that make me so happy it MUST have a positive affect on my health- for sure my well being. 


Three favorites I highly recommend are:


1.     Theives oil by Young Living.  The moment I get a tickle in my throat or a hint of a fever- this oil goes on me.  It is a strong one so if your skin is sensitive you can dilute it with a base oil like almond oil or coconut oil.  It’s perfect any time of the year but it seems especially yummy in the fall/winter months with the cinnamon and clove hints. Nine times out of ten when I have this on, I get a comment of someone saying how good I smell.  I put a few dabs on directly on my neck at my collar bone or at the base of my skull.


http://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oils/blends/thieves-essential-oil

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2.     MetaGenics Wellness Essentials Packets.  There is one daily packet.  Easy- peasy as they are already bundled together. It is filled with all of the core vitamins you need: calcium, multi-vitamin, fish oil, etc...  Even if your diet is super clean and more organic than not- most of us are not getting the nutrients we need with just our diet alone.  MetaGenics is a company that creates a ‘pharmaceutical grade’ of supplements (versus the farm grade).  How they get this grading is based on the extensive scientific testing they have done. These are some high quality vitamins! They test to see how efficient they are at getting fully absorbed in your body- rather than just passing through your system.  I typically will buy one box at a time and it runs for a thirty day supply.


http://www.metagenics.com/products/product-lines/wellness-essentials

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3.     Intelligent Nutrients Face product line. The founder of Intelligent Nutrients was Horst M. Rechelbacher (also the Aveda global plant-based cosmetic empire founder) with the firm belief that everything we put on our bodies should be nutritious and safe.  Face wash, mist, serum, and lotion- all of it smells and feels so awesome I feel like I’m getting a facial every night before I go to sleep.  It’s become a sweet ritual of self pampering and I swear my skin eats it up with joy and is happier as a result.  I’m a frequent flyer and they have great travel size kits. This product line is USDA Organic and based in Minneapolis, MN.  Win win.  You also can’t beat the companies philosophy:  “If it’s good enough to go on your body, it should be good enough to go into your mouth.” I feel healthier already.  Buh-bye toxic products.


http://www.intelligentnutrients.com/shop-by-category/travel-size-hair-care

 

 

 

It’s makes a difference for me to open up the cabinet door and see products that enhance my wellbeing proactively.  What do you see in your wellness cabinet?  What will you add that will positively promote good health? 

 

feng shui the Facebook feed

The 'Urge to Purge' article on Elephant Journal inspired me to gut out my closet- to fill the bags and donate, donate, donate and a few big items to move on out.  Make room for new, clear space. Ahhhhhh it’s all so very therapeutic and easy.  The closet project- once completed- of course spilled into me gutting the entire main floor of my house and even the dreaded basement.  It’s true- atleast for me- that the ‘stuff’ was weighing me down and holding stuck energy. I’m seeing immediate results of my new space in my home and loving it. Now more than ever I’m all about creating a sacred space for myself.  Feels good.

 

It got me thinking of where else I could ‘clear clutter’- not in just with physical things but to really look at all that surrounds me on a daily basis.  Enter Facebook.  Facebook interactions have become as daily of a routine for me as brushing my teeth.  Check the feed, check the messages, check the notifications, what’s going on “out there”, messenger, what quotes will inspire me, what will get me thinking, what are my family and friends up to in the big wide world.  Then you see the ad’s, the posts that make your gut ache, the ones you want to look away from but it’s like driving by a car accident and you just have to look.  The way videos automatically play now is making it worse.  Image, Image, Image- it’s no wonder my eyes get blurry from scrolling, trolling, viewing for probably way too long on most days. Like the subliminal messages hidden in commercials that are playing too loud, my brain is soaking it all in and time just vanishes. Poof.  I know this is nothing new to read about, but this is my inquiry as of late.

So now is the time to clear the clutter… Hide this, block that, unfollow, defriend, delete.  Similar to the clearing out an old email box, it stays that way for about a day and then boom. it fills right back up.  It never ends.  So instead of trying to control what I see on the screen, I went the other route which I have to say is much harder.  Less time on Facebook. Feng shui my day please.  Balance.  Ugh. It’s hard!  I know I’ve heard of those mysterious people who have completely deleted their accounts- wha?  Or taken a 10 day detox- a bit more reasonable. But taking a conscious choice to step away from the screen and get into a real conversations face to face, real interactions in the physical presence of another, requesting that business meetings are in person, woo what a difference its made already.  May we all walk away from the screen a little more every day and connect more in person as humans are supposed to. And to be clear I am fully aware of the irony- that I am writing a blog and then posting it on Facebook about walking away more from the screen.  It’s all in moderation- yes? That’s when there is this thing called balance. Ahhh the illusion of less clutter. *And just to share what is now strumming through my head…  Everybody have fun tonight- everybody feng shui tonight.  Or something like that. Yep.  Now may this song be forever stuck in your head today too. :)  So let me know if this inspired you to clear the clutter, search for balance, or connect with another human beyond screen time- in whatever way that works for you.  Wishing you success on finding your balance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoXu6QmxpJE

 

YES OR NO

Flip a coin.  Heads or tails, left or right, yes or no.  This is how I've come to make decisions lately- really needing them to be one way or the other.  None of this wishy washy "but what if" business.  No time for that! ( maybe it's residual super moon powers affecting my need for clarity?)  Not all of the time, but more often then not, I will find myself "muscle testing" a question to create a choice/answer.  I press the tips of my index and middle fingers to the end of my thumb with my left hand (kind of like the "ok" sign).  Then I ask my question.  I try to pry it open with my right hand… If the connection breaks then my answer is no.  If  the connection stays solid and secure then my answer is yes.  Sound coo-coo?  Try it!  (*question must have a yes or no answer for it to work)

You've seen this before, yes?  #yogaeverydamnday.  Well for me- it is HARD to make time for yoga every damn day.  Yes It's amazing when for a period of time when it happens every damn day, and yes I feel more connected, more grounded, more in tune with my intuition and yes maybe I don't have to resort to my silly muscle testing when faced with questions.  BUT I will say that this little tool has helped me feel more confident in my choices, and has helped me move forward with a decision when being absolutely paralyzed with fear on certain questions in my world.  So unless you are superwoman yogini/ superman yogi and really do continue doing #yogaeverydamnday, maybe you won't need this in your life.   I thought I would share this helpful tool for us needing a little help because sometimes decisions are hard.  Downright brutal at times.

Of course use whatever works.  Whatever tool that can get you MOVING, CHOOSING, taking ACTION in your life.  How's it go?  (I always say it backwards. lol  ) … it's not the destination but the journey that counts…  yeah well it's nice when the journey that's faced with thousands of choices every day- has some help- wouldn't you say?  Yes or No?  Muscle test it! :)

*saw this and had to share...

We cannot escape the journey laid out for us. We can resist it. We can scorn it. We can rally against it, fists to the sky and tears falling to the ground. We can wait until our last breath or take it up on our first one, the choice is always ours. Our journey stands outside the boundaries of time with the patience of a million saints. Our journey does not give up on us, even when we do. 

But eventually engage it we must. And in the process we are challenged, changed and hopefully brought closer to the true nature of our being. If we survive, we tell the tale upon our return. We tell the tale and others are healed by it. This is our piece. This is our peace. This is our (sometimes horrific) glory. Humans live through harrowing, devastating atrocities of man and god everyday.

Chani Nicholas


Mantras

I recently completed a 21 day mantra meditation with Deva Premal & Miten.  It was an online course of daily mantra's with the two of them guiding the way.  A little discussion to start explaining the mantra of the day and its meaning, and then a kirtan style call and response mantra meditation that would last anywhere from ten to twenty minutes.  It was great- It became my nightly ritual before bed and to sing back at my computer.  It was not only an interesting way of experiencing kirtan, but it forced me hear my own voice.  We would Ommmmm together at the beginning and end and I honestly would look forward to it every day.

One day in particular stood out.  Day 19.  I received my reminder email like usual.

Dear Stacy,

Today we share a mantra that connects us with the Lotus Sutra of Buddha. The lotus flower is symbolic, in that it produces the flower and the seed at the same time, reminding us that the eternal energy of the Buddha nature is always present, that we can each realize our Buddha nature in this very moment.

To start today’s meditation click here.

Namasté!
 

With love, Deva & Miten

Mantras In Motion: Awareness is moment to moment. When you become aware that you have been acting unconsciously, no need for recriminations. Just breathe into your new awareness and return to the present moment.

“When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution. We all have the power to change. When we realize this truth, we can bring forth that power anywhere, anytime, and in any situation.”

–Daisaku Ikeda

From that day's mantra meditation~ I learned this…

~ Nam myoho renge kyo ~

The lotus sutra

In the 13th century a japanese buddhist monk, Nichiren, recognized this sutra as the most direct path to enlightenment. You can use this as a means of transformation. Tune into the wisdom. 

The message is that everyone of us has the seed of 'buddhahood' with in us- its available to every one of us. It's energy is eternal and ever present. 

Nam- to devote
Myoho- mystic law
Renge- lotus
kyo- sutra

It brought me back to center.  It reminded me on a visceral level that we really do have all the answers inside.  I know it sounds cliche as I too hear those inspirational quotes probably fifty times in a day.  But when it hits, it hits.  A "shakti bomb" as my friend Kevin would say.  Maybe it was the vibration of the mantra coming out from my voice, maybe it was the visualization of the lotus in my mind, maybe it was just the right time for me to actually believe that transformation, real truth and that realization of our highest potential CAN come from this inner resource that has been guiding the way all along.  Thank you Deva Premal and Miten.

Four Heartbeats

I know I've said this before- but I just had the coolest day at work. I got to work on a mama with twins (27 weeks). Every time I'm just in awe thinking about all four of our heartbeats in the cozy wellness room…    

 image from the baby center.com

image from the baby center.com

 

As a result I learned this: 1. The fetal heart rate is approximately twice as fast as an adult’s, at about 150 beats per minute. 2. By the time a fetus is 12 weeks old, its heart pumps an amazing 60 pints of blood a day. 3. The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).  How cool is that?

That same day that I was in the inquiry about all things 'heart'… my friend posted this quote~ 

“Love is a decision - not an emotion!” 
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

It sparked an interesting conversation from many others about emotions, love, the heart, the brain, where it all love 'comes from', where decisions are sparked and the choice we have in the involvement of it all.  Comments about the heart being full of neurons, and the hormonal triggers expressed, and that love can be like a vibration and an action...

Needless to say it was an interesting day and contemplation on the heart and all the complexities that go along with it. 

"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge."

Thomas Carlyle

Music

“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.” 

- Maria von Trapp

A few days post summer solstice and I was inspired to create a new playlist for my mama's.  Prenatal yoga, 5:45pm at Blooma.  I have to admit I fallen victim of going to my 'stand by' playlist lately and haven't made anything fresh in a while.  So here she is:

Blooma summer 2014

  1. Within                        Tyia Wilson
  2. All Roads                        Tina Malia
  3. (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay        Sara Bareilles
  4. Summertime Thing                Chuck Prophet
  5. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right        Bob Dylan
  6. Road Trippin'                    Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. Home                        Ingrid Michaelson
  8. Into the Fire                    Bruce Springsteen
  9. Mercy                        Dave Matthews Band
  10. Pink Moon                        Nick Drake
  11. Sunny Road                    Emiliana Torrini
  12. Give In to Me                    Garrett Hedlund & Leighton Meester
  13. Ljosio                        Olafur Arnalds
  14. Claire de Lune                    The APM Orchestra

 

I want to give credit to the teachers that played some of these songs while I was attending as a student- and for sharing with me along the way.

 THANK YOU.  I think of you when I hear them!

Sarah Tacy, Whit Hornsberger, Jane Fryer, Katie Gorman and Laura Honeck