Yoga By Any Other Name

Yoga By Any Other Name
What if I told you I didn't teach yoga.

For 13 years, I've said, "I teach yoga," the same way you may say you "go to church or worship;" this can mean many different things to different people, but we have a general idea of what people are doing. 

When people think of yoga in the west, by and large, most people think about bendy, twisty shapes, perhaps a meditative moment, and calm.  And while just like church or worship, there will always be a wide net of experience and expression, the base of what is taught is asana or beneficial shapes; movement connected to breathing. 

When you do a deep dive into yoga, I can hardly call the shapes I teach, the ques I call, the TED Talk I give, and the indie music I curate for the energetic experience "yoga" any more than you could call the food you get from Taco Bell, Mexican. 

And I don't want to. 

I was drawn to yoga in my 20s because I was a gymnast as a child, and to me, yoga looked like a way to have an exercise experience as an adult that resembled gymnastics. Over time and training, the width and depth of movement connected to breath provided a mind-body experience that I couldn't deny and wanted to share and still do. 

For those curious, yoga as we know it (poses like warrior, down-dog, etc.) do not come from Hinduism but Sweden in the 1900s. Its original name was harmonial gymnastics. Indian nationals renamed the poses to honor their heroes and reclaim national identity, especially after the British presence of colonialism in the twentieth century. So what you get when you walk into a yoga studio is probably harmonial gymnastics developed by Swedish women.

Interestingly, The YMCA, a Christian organization, had a lot to do with the development of modern yoga. I prefer to call yoga a dynamic posture practice or movement & breath practice because that is what it is. 

For my friends of faith who struggle with yoga but are curious about its benefits, let me share this. The early Olympic games were dedicated to pagan gods like Zeus and Nike. For most of us, the origin of sport doesn't keep us from wearing Nike shoes, or competing in early Olympic sports like running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, or equestrian events.

So I ask you...

Would yoga by any other name be just as sweet? Would giving yoga a different name make it available to you?

When I think about traditional yoga, it looks nothing like what I facilitate, but I'm absolutely within range when I think of modern yoga. 

This fall I'll be offering a YOGA SCHOOL in the modern sense of the expression. Super Yoga Palace is a dynamic physical experience that strengthens the body and mind and cultivates culture and community. YOGA SCHOOL will teach you to facilitate just that - Movement, Breath, Culture & Community. 

The YOGA SCHOOL waitlist is open, with applications dropping this May. If you like what happens at "the Palace' and want to learn more, tap HERE

- Jessica

Hidden, Simple, Quiet & Small

Hidden, Simple, Quiet & Small
As I type, I'm making myself a morning meal, avocado toast and a sunny egg, listening to this YouTube about sewing a capsule wardrobe (I don't sew very well but would like to). I'm searching for an excellent machine to add to my Amazon birthday wishlist. The enneagram 3 in me is in full multi-tasking form. 

But you see, that's just it. As much as I have many things going on at once, my soul is leaning toward simplicity. And perhaps it's not that I don't want always to be learning, volunteering, or contributing, but I don't necessarily want to share, write about, or have it monetized as I have in the past. 

Some things can be hidden, simple, quiet, and small. 

Hidden, simple, quiet, and small is a quote I read from Father Thomas Hopko of blessed memory that has stuck with me. At face value, these words seem counter-modern culture, but it's good to remember to put everything in context, and perhaps those words aren't for you but me, my rebirth, my Spring enlightening.

On returning from San Francisco and our visit to Holy Virgin Cathedral Joy of All Who Sorrow, I had a bad case of the summer camp blues; I don't know that I was expecting that. I figured that stepping out of my day-to-day on a pilgrimage of prayer and contemplation would be beneficial, but I wasn't prepared for the grace-filled experience that it was. I'm not even sure how one could prepare for that. I'm still pondering, and I hope to write more about it in this diary as I feel prompted to share publically. 

My biggest insight. Get honest with where you are. Ask for help when you need it. Pray always and ask others for prayer; the saints are available to you too. Baby steps. The small things and the big things, the sweet things, the best things, and they're often the quiet things. 

How are you being reborn this Spring? What does growth or spiritual growth look like for you in this season? How can I pray for you? 

These are just a few of my thoughts, thank you for reading, and I welcome the conversation in the comments.

- Jessica 

Ps. This is a picture of St. John the Wonderworker whose relics I was blessed to venerate on this trip. If you'd like to learn more about this modern-day miracle-working saint send me a message and I will offer some books suggestions. 

A Pilgrimage

A Pilgrimage
As I type this, I should be cleaning and packing, but if I clean and pack first, I will probably not get around to this diary entry, and I want to be diligent here. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a journaler because pen and paper are where I'd rather put my thoughts, but you've got to start where you are, with what you have and what you'll do, so I do this. 

Josh and I are heading to San Fransisco in the morning on a Lenten pilgrimage to venerate the relics of St. John Maximovich. We are in the process of producing our next film El Tonto Por Cristo, an Orthodox tale about a holy fool; it only seemed fitting to make this trip to ask for the prayers of this Orthodox holy saint, who is also known as the wonderworker even after death. I don't know that much about St. John, but I've been intrigued by what I've heard from friends. I've read and been told that you can write him a letter and he will answer you;  not that you'll get a USPS stamped handwritten note in the mail, but another way. He prays for you, and there are answers. I have a handful of requests; I'm looking forward to meeting him. 

Filmmaking is vulnerable; you'll work tirelessly every day, believing that your craft is worth all your effort even when the outcome you are working towards is still far from materializing. The script Josh has written is a story that's never been told cinematically, yet I'm 100% certain it's a story everyone will want to see that way. So along with co-creating and co-producing, I'm co-praying for this project; I'll also take any of your spare prayers. 

Our trip will also include walking the Golden Gate Bridge, hiking Twin Peaks, having lunch in Chinatown, and having dinner in Little Russia. I made an itinerary, which is not really in my personality, but I knew it would be a quick trip and wanted to get as much out of it as possible. You can follow along on my Instagram to see how it all works out and if the plan works well; if it does, I may attach the itinerary here if you'd like to make the same trip. 

We've got Leon Bridges- Life from Gold Diggers -Hotel on in the background ( I love him ), and Josh is cooking dinner - a big batch, so our boys have leftovers even though they can fend perfectly for themselves. They will still always be our kids, and we will probably always do stuff like this. 

Before I sign off, I wanted to say I announced today on the Super Yoga Palace Instagram account - we're back and back to our roots. If you don't know what that means, check out this post, and I hope to see ya on the mat next Saturday. 


Except the Heart

I've recently seen a new to me hashtag circulating the social networks called #fourthtrimester - the captions lament all the things a postpartum mother wasn't prepared to experience and the lack of knowledge or support available for this stage of new motherhood. 

Last Summer, I wrote about early motherhood in my diary. You can read the post here. I'd have to say it's so sad that this lack of emotional education is still true. As a 24-year-old brand new mother, I felt emotionally sideswiped by how I wanted to feel and how I was feeling after my emergency C section. Interestingly the trauma surrounding my son's birth implicitly followed him into young adulthood, and the impact of 2020 became a mood and emotional tipping point. He found some relief with lifestyle edits, diet, exercise, and supplementation, which I'll share in another entry, but that wasn't enough; a pillar was missing. After working with various therapists, my husband and I found that Constellation Therapy, a less heard of modality, was the right fit - through a trusted referral. 

Without the tools I now have, I didn't understand explicit mood and emotions, their effects, and how to deal with them. If I had the knowledge I do now, I would have been incorporating a holistic healing protocol for him and me postpartum. It wasn't until I became an asana instructor over 13 years ago that I learned how emotions can become trapped at a cellular level and how techniques like movement can help the release. Experiencing firsthand with someone I love that feelings buried alive never die, I've since furthered my education and personal practice to take a proactive approach preparing for middle life and an emptier nest. 

Seasons change; this is the one thing we are guaranteed in life. 

Spring means change for all of us, and we are all experiencing the season together. In TCM or traditional Chinese medicine, the organ associated with Spring is the liver and gallbladder. 

Except for the heart, no other organ in the human body is attributed to the powerful emotions of the liver.

Right now is as good a time as any to address or Spring clean your emotional life, not just the home. When I purge and organize my abode, I can get overwhelmed, there is so much to do. It may always feel that way but the interest of good habits compounds, just like investments, and this is one of the best investments you can make. 

Start small, begin here.

I have fallen in love with an essential oil called Release. I apply three drops under my right side ribcage; this is approximately where your liver lives inside of you - then I do my movement and meditation practice. 

Are you ready to release something? Are you ready to let go? Let me hold space for you my friend. Join my live asana classes on Instagram. If you can't make it live, I'll keep the recording up for you, and any questions you have you can put in the comments, or you can reach out here. I'll be sure to reply. 

Release is a helpful blend to aid in releasing anger and memory trauma from the liver to create emotional wellbeing. It helps open the subconscious mind through pineal stimulation (sandalwood and tansy stimulate the pineal gland) to release deep-seated trauma. For our purposes, trauma can be defined as "any situation where you got less than you needed and were not equipped to process it." These traumas actually get stored deep within our cellular memory, and we can use the limbic system of the brain to help shift our thoughts and emotions around these traumas and patterns. To learn more about this incredible oil, click here or to try it for yourself, tap below. 

Accent The Ether

What I love most about the new and full moon is that they both accent the ether and remind us that to everything, there is a season, that the shifts of life are part of the human experience we can count on. For some of us, change is more challenging than others, but it's rarely comfortable for any of us; however, it can often lead to something beautiful if we choose flow over force. 

On the full moon ( day before, of, and day after), I like to incorporate moon salutes with specific essential oils into the classes I instruct. Moon Salutations are cooling and quieting. They are used to calm the mind and draw the awareness inward. Roll Peace & Calming or  Stress Away on the spine and mastoids to help reduce nervous energy and stress. These essential oils may help you sink more deeply into postures for restoration. 

Since some of us have cycles synced to the moon or are working on it, I thought I'd throw in another fun full moon fact. Specific shapes can help bring balance during menstruation and pre-menstrual syndrome. The Deep Relief blend in a roller reduces the physical symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. I recommend applying to the low back and abdomen, then taking a child's pose, legs on the wall, or reclining queen. If you are taking a deep stretch class like the one I teach at 11 on Saturdays, you could potentially tap into some deep emotional stuff, those dang hip openers! Be sure to have emotionally supportive oils nearby; you can always message me for suggestions. 

Saying affirmations is another beneficial practice to incorporate on a moon day or any day. After working with an incredible mindset & life coach this past year, I have a top tip about creating a practice that brings results. Between thoughts that may be way too accessible or extraordinary, try to find an affirmation that feels more true to you. For example, if you are healing from recent grief, instead of saying "I am handling whatever life brings my way," accessible or  "I am vibrant, whole, and fully alive," extraordinary; you could try "I am here, I am breathing, and I am in the process of healing."

What is your affirmation? I'd love to hear in the comments below. 

If you like this kind of content,  join my Self Care Commune on Facebook. I curate this kind space for people to discuss seasonal self-care with asana & essential oils. 

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