Just about everyone knows what yoga is – even though you may have never practiced it. The bending postures are mainstreaming in all forms of media and the effects of yoga are touted far and wide. Yoga is known to be good for flexibility, strength and alignment. It’s postures have the ability to make you feel grounded, energized, empowered and relaxed.
I began the practice specifically for its physical benefits some 30 years ago but along the way have discovered how beneficial it can be at a deep energetic layer.
My journey in yoga began over 30 years ago when I signed up for my first yoga class.
I began the practice of yoga out of curiosity. After graduating college and relocating, I was on the lookout for an exercise class. A friend told me about a teacher in town who was excellent in the field of yoga. Hmmm, yoga. Well, I’d been a modern dancer and appreciated all types of movement classes in the past…
Initially I remember being very skeptical about the class’s slow tempo and the teacher’s mellow voice. Mostly, I could not believe that I didn’t get off my back for one full hour. But, after my first session with Donna Barbaro in 1985, I knew that yoga was more than it appeared. For starters, I was sure that I had grown 6 inches taller when I walked out of class that day. And on my way home, I didn’t have a care in the world. I felt a true sense of peace and contentment. All that stretching and lengthening really had an effect. I was hooked!
Looking back, more than anything I probably benefitted from the grounding quality of yoga at that phase of my life. I was a young, newly married woman who had just left her family, school and friends behind to come to an unknown place.
This was the mid eighties. Aerobics was the trend. But yoga captured my heart and soul.
My journey with essential oils began in 2016 when I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia – an inflammation of the 5th cranial nerve which can cause intense facial pain.
In an attempt to get relief, I contacted friend and acupuncturist, Kayo Malik, who runs clinics in Sedona and Maui. I began a series of acupuncture treatments with Kayo and it was at the first session I was introduced to Young Living’s essential oil blend, Peace and Calming. Up until this point, I wasn’t too familiar with essential oils and what they had to offer but I wanted to give all of the natural avenues a try.
So, outside of the clinic, and periodically throughout each day, I breathed a drop of Peace and Calming from my cupped hands. In conjunction with the acupuncture, the oil blend was surprisingly effective in quieting my outbreaks.
I later discovered that one of Peace and Calming’s main components, tangerine oil, contains certain esters and aldehydes which can be tranquilizing to the nervous system.
Having had this success, I wondered what else the field of aromatherapy had to offer my condition. In researching, I ran across many oils with the ability to soothe the nervous system. However, since I didn’t know the cause of my disorder-whether it was viral, bacterial or merely stress related, I felt the need to explore all of the possible avenues that these jewels presented. So, I purchased a Young Living starter kit and the experience was truly an eye…or should I say, a nose…opener. Along with regular yoga practice and acupuncture, essential oils were able to tame my fiery nervous system and eventually eradicate my neuralgia.
Since then I have been enjoying the benefits of essential oils in dozens of ways for my health and well-being. As a yoga practitioner, it seemed only fitting that I would begin to explore how essential oils could influence my yoga practice.
Most of the essential oil/yoga classes I’ve researched have you flowing through the postures with specific oils for warming up, others for sun salutations, for balancing poses, inversions, final resting postures – the list goes on. A single yoga class could involve 7 separate oils in the span of an hour. While I understand the significance of choosing a specific oil for a specific type of pose, I was overwhelmed with the task of applying and experiencing so many oils at one session. To me, it wasn’t logistical either as oil placement is key to the process.
Instead, I have opted to use just one oil per practice session. First, I select an intention so that I can focus on one particular energetic state that I want to develop during my practice. I have explored various qualities such as grounding, stimulating, focus, compassion, strength, perception, etc. Then, I select an oil known to complement that practice element.
I feel great support when I use the oils for a particular intention in my practice. It really sets the stage and amplifies my process. I realize that, energetically, I am connecting with my yoga more intensely and purposefully each time I incorporate the oils.
I would like to revisit the energetic system of yoga in my next post. While I have touched upon this in previous writings, I have learned so much more lately and feel excited to share my experiences with you!
For many of you, this site has been the home of Yoga Posts for over 4 years. When it began, the purpose of the blog was to supplement my classes and provide more information on the topic of yoga. It originated from a desire to share knowledge with my students near and far as we became separated by space and time. It was a venue for documenting discoveries, resources, and inspiring yogic journeys. Eventually it lead to the publication of my first book entitled “Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Week at a Time.”
When I left Sedona, after 15 years of living and teaching, I thought the time had come for the yoga posts blog to end. Although I was retiring as a yoga teacher to many students, I wasn’t ready to end the connection I had cultivated.
So instead of completely wiping out the blog, I chose to rename it. And, since the name of our new street was Wellness Way (not kidding), I selected it as the blog’s new title. Keeping the old site alive still allows us to access all 212 original yoga posts right here – just use the search bar to revisit challenges, tips and the methodologies I have shared with you.
My plan was for the renamed blog, On Wellness Way, to reflect a broader journey. One that could document my own intention to create a healthier lifestyle, incorporating fitness, essential oils, gardening, plus yoga and all the other ways we can enhance our joy, vibrancy, sustainability and longevity.
So, as I settled into my new community last spring – creating a home and checking out my surroundings – I was looking forward to the journey ahead…
…of course, never expecting what was to eventually happen.
The COVID pandemic made many of my new health goals occur much faster than I ever predicted. Not wanting to shop at the big box stores for groceries or anything else, I turned to my local farmer’s market and discovered a plethora of resources: local produce, eggs, bread makers, honey harvesters, and flower growers just to name a few. Suffice it to say, the months of March through June were awesome and I learned how to create so many delicious and nutritious foods. I purchased an Almond Cow to make my own nut and oat milks, started a small backyard garden and incorporated daily hiking and essential oil recipes into my life. I was truly on the road to greater wellness!
Then a series of events occurred which turned everything upside down. My step-father was suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. As he transitioned into hospice, I felt that it was imperative to give my 81 year old mother the support she needed. I had quarantined well for 4 months so I didn’t have worries about being contagious. I felt it was safe to stay with my mother and accompany her to the hospice center (unlike hospitals and nursing homes, hospice allowed visitors so that their loved ones could say goodbye). And, I am thankful for the opportunity because after a mere 4 days, my step-father passed away.
Unfortunately just prior to his passing, I began to experience symptoms typical of COVID-19 which made it impossible for me to continue connecting with my mother. I felt her pain as, all alone, she mourned the death of her husband.
After 2 weeks of fever and weakness, I started to bounce back. Luckily, my mother (to this day) never presented with any symptoms. I then began the task of helping her reinvent herself after 30 years. So many things to contend with after such a life change. Interpreting trusts, wills, bank accounts, charge cards, utility bills and relocation options was overwhelming to all of us involved. The months of July and August were a blur. But I have not regretted having my mother closer than ever and helping her transition to a new home nearby.
It’s interesting how life provides you with exactly what you need. My journey this spring, with all of its twists and turns, has provided me with a greater strength and new perspective on the value of health. I have learned so many new life lessons and have a ton of helpful tools to add to my bag.
As part of my path to wellness, I am starting to delve into Ayurveda a bit more. I find this to be such a natural extension to my yoga teachings and practice. It will be a great new exploration for me and I hope to finish the first stage (wellness counselor) next fall.
But for the time being, and because I still love to share, I am developing a series of classes on the use of essential oils in yoga practice. I hope to launch my new zoom classroom soon and will keep you “posted.”
“When you invite the bell to sound, you are sending your love, you are sending your greeting, you are sending your wish to the people who will hear the bell. You wish that when they hear the bell they will stop suffering. (You wish that) they will begin to practice mindful breathing and that they will find the energy of peace, the energy of joy that is within themselves.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
As teacher, I have invited you to hear the bell with my whole heart. Over these many years, you have heard well. The sound of the bell echoes back to me now ringing true and clear. We are all a part of the whole.
The time has come for the yoga posts blog to end and a new adventure to begin. I will continue to carry along all of the experiences we have shared over the past few years. In teaching you, I have learned a great deal.
As we go our separate paths, let us allow the bell to continue to ring from wherever we are to wherever we may go. All we need to do is remember…
…with gratitude for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me.
There is a lot of information to be had on the subject of contentment. How you get it, ways to keep it and why it is so important.
Happiness is vital to our physical and mental health. When we are happy, each day is a joy to greet, we look forward to being with others and eagerly anticipate our future.
There is a reason for this. When we are happy, those feelings of positivity connect us with the universe. When we are in sync with nature, we are aligned with the vibration of love, joy and contentment. Attuned to the universal flow of energy, we accumulate support and guidance and are able to receive what it is that we most desire. Wow, that sounds powerful, doesn’t it?
A new move to a new town in a new year has undoubtedly brought me a fresh perspective. By now we have unpacked the boxes, at least most of them, and the excitement of reestablishing a home and all that goes with it has dwindled. I am beginning to look ahead to my next “phase.”
Before my transition, I researched materials for planning this next journey because I’ve learned, from previous moves, that a new environment is a great opportunity for reevaluation and fresh prospects. I knew that my latest transition would need reassessment and I wanted to start out with a good system for designing and organizing my new intentions.
I ended up purchasing a MaxOut planner. Its selling point was that it could help me “unlock my full potential, set meaningful goals and succeed in accomplishing my biggest dreams.” This particular journal/planner is complex with pages for goal setting, affirmations, reflection, tracking and, of course, planning the months, weeks and days. However, the first step to beginning the process is to ask yourself the big question:
If you have a strong desire for something, is that necessarily wrong or bad for you? The way I see it, nearly everyone indulges in pleasure from time to time. And, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, indulgences, like everything else, are fine in moderation.
Indulgences are usually things we can live without and may even be considered unhealthy – like alcohol, smoking, and sugar. But there are times when we have to go on our computers and phones or shop for an item and, certainly, we all have to eat – these activities are not considered indulgences or luxuries but they can still lead to binging and addictive behaviors.
What is the difference between binging and addiction?
During this past week, I have been considering the concept of moderation. It is so easy to fall into habits and extremes – mostly when it comes to diet, sleep and work. Many of us choose to see things as black or white, yes or no, never or always, right or wrong, too much or not enough…the correlations are virtually endless with this idiom which makes it understandable and relatable in many situations. Deep awareness and dedication are required to keep steering ourselves toward that middle road.
I have taken my yoga practice in moderation this week by applying the principles of yin yoga. When doing my initial research for teaching many years ago, I stumbled across the term “Goldilocks principle” or “position” as defined by Bernie Clark. It means just as the storybook explains, not doing too much, nor doing too little, but doing what is just right. Yin yoga is a very good practice to hone the concept of moderation. It permits you to judge for yourself how deeply you would like to descend into a posture. It is good preparation for knowing the difference between “stressing” the body and “pushing” the body – keep in mind that stressing the connective tissue is the intention behind yin yoga.
In general, yoga has taught me that too much flexibility is just as damaging as too much strengthening – one can lead to instability and the other, rigidity. You need to practice with both principles in your sights in order to be healthy and balanced.
If you have never heard of yin yoga or are unfamiliar with the asanas of yoga in general, then consider the concept of moderation with other activities that you do on a regular basis. An interesting examination would be to measure how much you overload the senses with screen time. This is a very common way that we tend to unconsciously overdose ourselves.
The remedy to balance and get back on the middle road is to generate awareness. I find spending time walking outdoors to be the best treatment for avoiding extreme routines. Communing with nature is equalizing, centering and definitely gives me a wiser perspective. It allows me to think more openly – in technicolor, rather than merely black or white.
Today, I am continuing with a series I started back in October based on the use of essential oils for yoga practice. I have connected this usage to the more subtle aspect of yoga, the chakras or energy complex.
In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the general chakra system, click here.
We will proceed with the manipura or solar plexus chakra. It’s the third chakra and is located below the sternum and behind the stomach. This chakra balances our willpower, harmonizes our personality and motivates and focuses us as individuals. With characteristics of the fire element, it fuels ambition and confidence.
Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to discover the powerful quality of this chakra: Warrior I,I & III, Trikonasana (triangle), Vasisthasana (side plank) or Natarajasana (dancer’s pose).