In House: Shakta Khalsa on Yoga with Children
Children today are under as much stress as adults. And with the busy, achievement-oriented lives they lead, kids need tools to help them self-nurture, self-adjust, and feel happy. Children are expected to behave in ways that their nervous systems cannot easily manage without physical activity, yet they are increasingly inactive in school and at home. And every day the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and other sensory issues grow higher.
The good news is that kids can find much balance and support via natural exercise and play—in the form of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. In the formative years of childhood, yoga is purposeful play that brings physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Yoga tools include calming breathing practices, affirmative songs for positive self-talk, and movements/poses to organize the nervous system and strengthen the physical body.
Recently I sat down with three young people who did, in fact, grow up with yoga. The first is a young woman who was my yoga student from age three until eight and recently reconnected with me after twenty years. Madeleine told me how yoga impacted her life as a child, and how it has continued to help her grow as an integrated, authentic person.
Madeleine: from preschool yoga to yoga teacher
Madeleine holds a special place in my book, Fly Like A Butterfly, and in my heart as well. As an eight-year-old she was one of the child models in my book, and for five years I taught a weekly children’s yoga class at her Montessori school. Beginning at age three, Madeleine was one of the children who took yoga with me for all five of those years.
After being out of touch with Madeleine for decades, she found me on social media around two years ago. I am delighted to say that we have been talking back and forth ever since. She is now twenty-five and an accomplished hatha yoga teacher in Santa Barbara, California.
A foundation of yoga
Shakta: It is thrilling to reconnect with you, Madeleine. I am wondering what you most remember about your yoga classes with me when you were young?
Madeleine: I remember doing the washing machine exercise when I was really little, like three or four. Then candlestick was more fun by the time I was eight. I know it is actually called shoulder stand, but I still like calling it candlestick!
Shakta: I am wondering about the years between Montessori school and adulthood. Did you just continue to do yoga on your own?
Madeleine: Once I stopped Montessori school, I stopped doing yoga. It was a huge transition when I started public school. For example, in public school we were sitting all the time, not like in the Montessori classroom where we moved around and chose our work. I stopped doing yoga, but it was always there for me—emotionally—when I needed it. Another thing that was really different was that I was expected to do physical fitness in public school. PE was kind of scary to me. Yoga was never scary, I guess because it was only about what you could do. I never enjoyed sports or competitive things, and that’s why PE was scary. I stopped doing yoga, but it was always there for me—emotionally—when I needed it.
Returning to yoga
Shakta: So tell me, how did you get back into yoga?
Madeleine: When I was fifteen and in boarding school, I remember seeing pictures of people on the internet who were doing yoga. My thought was, “Oh, I remember doing that!” So I got some videos and practiced by myself throughout high school. Then in college I took a class.
Shakta: How wonderful! And this lead to you becoming a yoga teacher?
Madeleine: Sharing yoga with friends lead to becoming a trained yoga teacher. Back in high school I started teaching my friends…I still called shoulder stand “candlestick” and things like that.
Shakta: I always think it is good to lighten up about yoga and help people relax and laugh. Madeleine, I’ve seen you doing some very impressive arm-supported poses. What do you think about the current image that yoga has—for example, the way yoga is portrayed as super-fit people doing poses that are impossible for most people?
Madeleine: I guess they want to show what looks good in photos. No one wants to see shavasana (deep relaxation pose) in a picture! When I do some of the more intense poses, people ask me if I was a gymnast, which is ironic because that was always so hard for me—I could never even do a cartwheel! But I look at yoga as playing. It was never something I had to “accomplish.”
Yoga is playtime
Shakta: Sounds like you do it because you enjoy it.
Madeleine: Exactly. When I go into the yoga studio as a grown-up person, I never go because I have to. It is always playtime—it’s “me time.” I can go to a yoga class anywhere in the world and feel that I am back home. I teach full time, fourteen classes a week. It’s my life now! I feel really lucky because I could never work in an office. And you know, I feel really honored. All these people come into one room together. It is probably the one time of the day that they don’t have their cell phones. They aren’t paying attention to anything else. No technology, just breathing. We are all just breathing together. It feels like home. And I can go to a yoga class anywhere in the world and feel that I am back home.
Shakta: Now you are inspiring me, your original teacher!
Yoga for the mind, body, and soul
Madeleine: (Laughing) I love how it helps with everyday life. I had asthma as a child, and yoga and meditation have helped me to breathe better. Yoga has helped me to be more mindful, to pay attention to my body and what’s going on around me. Lately I’m noticing the difference between emotions, how they come and go, compared to things in life that are more permanent.
I love how yoga helps you realize that what is going on in the moment is a mirror for how you are feeling in that moment. For example, if I really want to get into a pose and it is not happening, I can be aware of what’s going on in my body, I can recognize it outside of class too. I can recognize that I need to calm down a little. I can work with that same feeling when it is happening in traffic. I can notice it and change it instead of getting overcome by things happening around me. And, Shakta, I am just wondering—how do you do that with children?
Shakta: Little children understand these things if you put it in language they can understand. That’s what I do in my Radiant Child Yoga work, and that is what I did with you all those years ago in the Montessori school!
Madeleine: I’ll never forget the spaghetti test [see practice below]. I wish I could do it with my adult students to help them experience what it feels like to relax. It’s such good biofeedback! I wonder what will happen with all these children who grew up with yoga? Something great I think!
Shakta: Something like what has happened for you, my dear Madeleine!
The spaghetti test
Lie down on the floor, face up, arms at your sides. Imagine you are stiff like spaghetti when it is in the box. Inhale and tense your entire body. Exhale and be like cooked spaghetti—soft and relaxed. Do this three times. Have a friend test you to see if you are “cooked” by gently picking up one arm and wiggling it to see if it is relaxed.
Make a difference with child yoga
As Madeleine clearly demonstrates, growing up with yoga can be an organic process that has a profound impact. One heart, one mind at a time. Do you feel called to share the joy of yoga with children? Join Shakta for her Radiant Child Yoga Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 7th-11th, 2018, and contribute to the building of a more peaceful world.
This article was first published in Yoga International, and is republished with the permission of the author. It is presented in excerpt. Read the full article here.
Shakta Khalsa, ERYT-500 and IKYTA certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, is a leading expert on children and yoga.. She is a parent, Montessori educator, and a yoga professional recognized by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world. Shakta is the Founder and Director of Radiant Child® Yoga, an internationally-known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously. In the children’s yoga community, Shakta is considered the “godmother” of the children’s yoga movement.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
In House: Jennifer Farmer on After-Death Communication
The most frequent question I get is “Can I communicate with my deceased loved ones?” The answer is a solid YES. If you are open to the Spirit World, not only is it possible, it is likely that you will have a Spirit touch and visit from your loved ones.
Is after-death communication possible for me?
Yes! After-death spirit communication is different for everyone. Some communication occurs through dreams and some throughout waking daily life. It’s important to mentally send your request and let your loved ones know you want to hear from them. You can do tell them out loud or through your mind. You might feel a little crazy at first, but rest assured, they hear you.
When Spirit visits your dreams
I’ve had many Spirit visits in my dreams over the years. For me, they are different than regular dreams. When I have them, I can feel my deceased loved one is with me more clearly. They usually have a lighted energy with them and I wake up feeling I’m had an in actual in-person visit together.
Dreams are not the only form of after-death communication. They also connect with us during our waking hours. I like a good night’s sleep, so I prefer to communicate with my loved ones during my waking hours.
Waking communication is similar to sleep state after-death communications. Asking your loved ones through your mind or verbally speaking is still the first step. Non-verbal communication from your loved ones in a waking state is just as profound as those in dreams. They can communicate better with us when we are relaxed, open, and receptive. That’s why so many people experience after death communication while in meditative state or asleep.
It takes two people to have a conversation. Sending your thoughts and words like “I really need to see you in my dreams” or “I need to know that you are okay” are the best ways to start the connection.
How can I communicate with my loved ones?
Asking is the first step in starting the new and improved connection. You can ask your deceased loved one to come and visit you during your sleeping period. When making your request, ask sincerely, from your heart, in a quiet manner or prayer. One strategy I’ve taught my clients and students to to take these steps before bed to connect with your loved one:
- In a relaxed state, right before sleep, imagine your loved one with you.
- See them as healed and whole.
- Imagine their face smiling brilliantly, and occupied with love for you.
- Say, “I love you!” with a radiant smile on your face.
- Ask your loved one to come visit while you are sleeping.
- Relax and go to sleep.
How communication eases grief
I’ve worked giving readings, teachings and meditation for more than 10 years now. I’ve focused so much on honing my gifts of Spirit communication for others.
My mom passed last year and I’ve had the opportunity to use my abilities for personal reasons. I’m sure glad I can. After-death communication with my mom has comforted me while riding the emotional roller coaster of grief.
Do not let depression, grief and loneliness take the better part of you. Talk to your loved ones who have gone. Staying in a state of grief, anger, guilt, or regret cannot bring back your deceased loved ones. God knows, I speak the truth in this. I held on to anger too long after my dad passed. I felt connected to him even while I was mad him for leaving me. Knowing that I could communicate with him after his passing was a life changer for me. After-death communication is open to everyone. Having a little faith in yourself and in the Spirit World is all you need to get started.
Your loved ones in Spirit want to help you through your time of grief.
Have you been thinking about your loved ones and how to connect with them after they are gone? After-death communication changed my life in so many ways and I wish the same for you. If you are open to the healing power of the Spirit World, your life will take on new meaning and purpose.
Over the past 10 years, Jennifer Farmer has helped people heal grief through readings and development workshops. She is well respected and a recognized leader in her field as gifted intuitive, medium and spiritual teacher. In 2008, Jennifer earned the seal of approval as one of the best psychic mediums. She continues to study new teachings and regularly attends workshops, including the Arthur Findlay College in the UK.
Access your gifts from Spirit and create a new Spirit-powered life with Jennifer at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 4th to October 7th, 2018 at her retreat, Healing With the Spirit World.
This article first appeared on jenniferfarmer.com.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
The Inner Bonding Process
This past May, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted Dr. Margaret Paul for Inner Bonding, a weekend of transformative healing. Below, she elaborates on what the Inner Bonding Process is, and how it can change your life.
If you don’t value yourself or think that you’re good enough, why would you be motivated to take care of yourself?
A new solution for happiness
I worked as a traditional psychotherapist for 17 years, and I did not see people healing on a deep level. They’d feel better after a session, of course, but then something would happen in their life and they wouldn’t be able to deal with it. They didn’t have the tools, techniques, and inner strength needed to overcome the struggles of everyday life. I started to pray for a process that would go deep in terms of healing, for something that people could draw upon no matter where they were or how they were feeling.
That’s when I met the co-creator of Inner Bonding, Dr. Erika Choprich. I’m certain that Spirit made sure that we met so that we could combine our experience and knowledge. Our process has been life-changing for me, and I know it has been life changing for others, as well.
Learning to love yourself
With the Inner Bonding Process, people really get a handle on their anxiety and depression. They become motivated to take care of themselves, especially with what they put into their physical bodies. Their addictions to sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, what have you, begin to fade away.
Their relationships improve. Many people begin to realize that they’ve never learned to take responsibility for their own feelings and how to truly love themselves. In our society, we don’t have role models for that! In order to know what to do in any given moment, you have to access your inner guidance. You learn to ask yourself, “What’s loving to me right now? What can I do that’s in my highest interest?”
Nurturing emotional intelligence
Let’s say that you’re angry, and you’re convinced that your anger is because someone else has been unloving to you. Somebody else has put you down, judged you, rejected you, or pulled away from you. Your first instinct might be to say, “Well, of course I’m angry! Look at what they’re doing to me!” But in the Inner Bonding Process, we learn that anger is a symptom of our inner child, our soul, our essence, angry at us because we don’t know how to take care of ourselves in the face of somebody else’s unloving behavior.
When we get angry, we’re abandoning ourselves. We get defensive, we explain, we give up, we shut down, we take it personally, we blame the other person. We teach people to turn around and say to their inner selves, “How am I treating you? What am I telling you? How am I judging or abandoning you? How am I not being an advocate for you in the face of what somebody else is saying?”
That inner self might say, “Well, you’re judging me all the time. You’re putting me down. You’re not standing up for me. You’re not keeping me safe. You numb me with food. You don’t even know I exist.”
This self lets us know whether we’re loving ourselves or abandoning ourselves. When we feel peaceful, full, loved, and valued, then we know we’re taking care of that self.
Unlearning childhood pain
Growing up, we deal with a lot of pain. And we learn that we need to avoid pain at all costs, because it overwhelms us. Many of our parents treated us like we weren’t good enough, like we had to be perfect, to perform, that their love was conditional on how we looked or how many A’s we got or how popular we were. We absorbed all of that, and we started to treat ourselves the way we were treated by our parents or caregivers or church.
We perpetuate the abuse, and then wonder why we feel so bad. Why we feel so much pain. We don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know how to manage it. But that pain is telling you something about yourself.
The people who should have taught us how to handle this pain may in fact have been the ones hurting us. We learn to disconnect, dissociate from our feelings. We learn to think that feelings are weakness. We learn to think that we were bad when we were feeling our feelings. We’re supposed to just be okay all the time. With the inner bonding process, people learn to reconnect with their feelings and to interpret what their feelings are telling them.
They learn how to embrace themselves with compassion, to take responsibility to move closer to our feelings, to move with an intention to learn. We all want to receive love and avoid pain.
Love yourself in every area of your life
The 6 Inner steps of bonding helps you learn what it means to love yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, within relationships, organizationally, and financially. You learn what it means to show up for yourself, and that creates a sense of fullness and peace inside. You develop new neural pathways in your higher brain, your prefrontal cortex. You become a loving adult who naturally relies on your higher brain.
Parent your inner child
We need to approach our feelings as a loving adult. Your inner child needs to trust you, so you need to be open and compassionate and to really listen. We have to learn to reconnect with our intuition and to honor our feelings rather than squash them. This is what inner bonding is about. Learning to trust your inner guidance. We become our own guru. We access really amazing information.
Our goal can’t be to avoid pain–that makes our frequency too low. We can’t come at it from a perspective of protection, avoidance, and control. We access it only when we’re open to learning about what it means to love ourselves, and to identify our false beliefs.
Find your purpose
As you practice inner bonding, you get in touch with why you’re on the planet, with what brings you joy to offer the world. We’re here to evolve in our ability to love ourselves and love others, and we’re here to offer our love to the world in our own unique way. We have so many gifts that have been squashed down and judged, and this process really reconnects you to those gifts. When people tap into that, it brings enormous joy.
Learn more about the Inner Bonding Process here.
Dr. Margaret Paul is a bestselling author and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, and the related SelfQuest® self-healing online program – recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Oprah. Margaret holds a PhD in psychology, is a relationship expert, public speaker, consultant and artist. She has successfully worked with thousands and taught classes and seminars for over 50 years.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
In House: Rachel Fleischman on being Bozos on the Bus
We’re all bozos on the bus,
So we might as well sit back
And enjoy the ride
Like many women in the 21st century, I feel like I need eight arms, like a Hindu goddess, to keep up with myself.
I’m a body-oriented psychotherapist, workshop facilitator, yoga student, wife, friend, daughter, ninja flea market shopper. I try to have my shirt buttoned and my skirt ironed up before I sit with a client to give her the best of myself.
Bozos on the bus
But in my private life, like you, I am also human: I get mad at my husband, I worry that my friends don’t like me, and almost weekly I wonder if I should get a butt lift like Kim Kardashian.
Elizabeth Lesser, friend and author of the book Broken Open, tells us, “I believe that we’re all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments—mistake prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world.”
This is what I sometimes feel like in my darker moments: a bozo camouflaged under decorative diplomas, excellent training and a loving demeanor. I show my best self, hoping people don’t see my vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears. But as a psychotherapist, I know that as we navigate through the landscapes of life, we are called to integrate our shadow parts, our rage, terror, jealousy and other difficult emotions.
Another bozo dance
The other night I led a Dance Your Bliss workshop while hurting from a conflict with a close friend. Our fight had triggered my deepest fear, Am I unlovable? I walked into the workshop I was leading and put on the music for my students. As the sound of African drums filled the room, I began to feel strength and power moving though my hips. In fact, I felt more grounded and alive than I had in months. Instead of a weight dragging me down, my grief and fear had become fuel that I could use for the dance.
I went to bed that night easy in the realization that what has happened between my friend and myself was just a bozo dance that we would be able to set right. In the past, I would have obsessed about the incident, worried about it like a dog with a bone until it festered and oozed, and it would have taken months to clear up.
Invite your pain to dance with you
But I’ve learned a few things. For one, I accepted that I was in the grip of my dark emotions. I didn’t try to put them aside when I went out on the dance floor. Instead I invited the pain to dance with me and through me until it danced itself away.
In the Tibetan tradition, this is called taking tea with your demons. We don’t deny our humanness; instead, we embrace it and then we are free to accept its gifts. I believe that so many of us have a narrative of ourselves that is far less than who we really are.
I want to offer you a loving challenge: can you take your bozo to tea and laugh together at your perfectly human imperfections?
Rachel Fleischman, CSW, REAT, helps people move out of their heads and into their bodies to heal. A seasoned psychotherapist, educator, speaker and writer, she is the founder of the Dance Your Bliss™ healing system and the Being Bliss meditation CDs. Rachel has pioneered the combination of psychology with movement, neuroscience, expressive-arts and spirituality.
Are you ready for an exuberant, deeply restorative, and life-changing experience? Join Rachel for the Dance Your Bliss™ retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 19th to October 21st.
This article first appeared on Elephant Journal.
In House: Lavinia Plonka on Healing Back Pain
The truth is out. There is no quick fix for your back pain — not in the way you have been conditioned to think of it. Back surgery has been shown to be ineffective most of the time, and often makes things worse. Epidurals and cortisone shots are temporary. And by now, everyone knows what happens when painkillers become a regular part of your life.
The mystery of back pain
Back pain is a mystery. Research has shown that many people with bulging discs, degeneration, structural anomalies, or tears, have no pain and lead active lives. Conversely, many people who have no structural damage suffer from chronic pain. The late Dr. John Sarno, best-selling author of Healing Back Pain, stated that most back pain was emotionally based. Pilates people will tell you it’s your core. Physical therapists will say it’s your posture. But what if it’s a little bit of everything, with age and old injuries thrown in?
A mindful approach to back pain
In Cathryn Jacobson Ramin’s book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry, Ramin tried everything to relieve her back pain, even submitting herself to surgery at the infamous Laser Spine Institute. After years of frustration, she found two approaches that helped: Back Pain Boot Camp and mindful movement. I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’m not going for Boot Camp! In her list of mindful approaches, she credits the Feldenkrais Method as a useful approach for back pain.
From pain to pleasure
Unlike traditional exercise, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons use mindful movement to re-train your brain and nervous system. The movements are luxuriously slow and offer your body the opportunity to untangle pain patterns without stress. Most of the lessons are done lying down, often with eyes closed. It’s like giving your nervous system a spa treatment from the inside out.
Once you learn the movements, you can do them at home to maintain your spinal health. No doctors, no surgery, no drugs. Just a commitment to your own well-being. Try a free sample, and if you scroll down the page, there’s even a lesson for your spine.
And if you’d like to experience the benefits of Awareness Through Movement lessons in a beautiful retreat environment, please join me August 23-26 for From Pain to Pleasure at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. We’ll take good care of you!
Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”
In House: Jurian Hughes on Practicing Blessing
A few years ago, my beloved David Wallace and I taught a program together for the first time. We spent the week leading up to New Year’s with a tribe of like-minded souls, diving into ‘Practicing Blessing’. And what an incredible blessing it was! Though I confess I had some trepidation about our teaching together – we are soooo different! – it turned out to be, of course, the great gift.
While David is a thoughtful scholar, minister, and poet, I’m a body-feeling dancer, chanter, and yogi. Together, with our distinctive/complementary styles, we literally practiced blessing together. For five days, we practiced actively cultivating ways in which to live in the space of embodied connection to spirit. It was, by turns, surprising, humbling, inspiring, delightful, empowering, raw, and beautiful.
The blessing of dance prayer
The highlight for me was New Year’s Eve, when we offered what may be the first-ever flash mob dance prayer in the middle of Kripalu Yoga Center’s busy lunchtime dining hall. Amidst hundreds of guests and their chatter, Simon de Voil’s beautiful song “Deep Peace” rang out. A hush came over the room as twenty, thirty, then perhaps forty of us rose from various points throughout the hall, to silently, in a simple dance, bless the throng. People stopped eating to receive our wordless offering. Better yet, some stood, or sat, and joined us. It was one of the most moving events I’ve witnessed in quite some time.
I had to try to capture some of that. Sean Nackoul helped me make this video of the dance prayer in the snow, so you can practice it, too…
I, too, am a dancer
Dance prayer teaches me something I am always forgetting–the power of simplicity. I am so thankful to my teacher, mentor, and friend, Megha Nancy Buttenheim, creator of Let Your Yoga Dance®, who introduced me to dance prayer over a decade ago and reminds me that ‘less is, so often, more’. My goal at this stage of life is not to perfect my dance technique, but rather to make the beauty, the joy, the sacred practice of dance so simple, so accessible that everyone who comes into the room has the experience of “I, too, am a dancer.”
The simplest, most helpful practice I’ve taken on since our ‘Practicing Blessing’ program is to write down daily the blessings of the day. It’s been quite eye-opening to observe my inner landscape as I do this; to witness myself on the days when it’s difficult vs. the days when I could go on forever. It’s teaching me what I value by highlighting the things that show up over and over – David, Smitty, health, friendship, work that feels worthwhile, a momentary connection with a stranger that infuses my day with meaning… This practice of taking time to remember and record the ways in which I have been blessed helps me to feel like I can then, in turn, be a blessing to others. Simple, yes.
Today, may you feel your blessings overflowing, and know that you, too, are worthy and capable of being a blessing in the world.
Jurian Hughs, E-RYT 500, MFA, is founder of the Yoga of Voice; co-founder of A Wild Life Sanctuary™; co-creator of The Yoga of Yes; a Let Your Yoga Dance® teacher trainer; voice coach; personal mentor; writer; speaker; and theatre performer known for her passionate, playful, and engaging teaching style. As a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Yoga since 2006, Hughes has led thousands of workshops and programs and trained more than 1,000 Kripalu yoga teachers.
In House: Neil Kagan on his Reiki Journey
Why might somebody feel called to take a Reiki class? In my experience, there are generally four categories:
- You have a need for yourself
- You have a need for someone else
- You are in the Healing business (massage therapy, chiropractic, etc)
- You love the subject of energy work and other similar modalities
Taking healing into your own hands
The common theme through all of these is that you can learn how to take healing into your own hands — literally — with Reiki. By tapping into the unlimited supply of universal or Reiki energy, you can administer the energy to yourself, a loved one, an animal, or even a situation.
A holistic approach with Reiki
In my case, I fit into the second category. My firstborn son was getting ready to have a liver transplant at the age of 10 months. While I knew he had to undergo major surgery, I was still searching for ways and modalities that I could do to help facilitate his healing.
Approximately one month before his transplant, I took my first Reiki class. I still remember the energy I felt the first time I put my hands over him, just hours after his transplant. The energy I felt in my hand was very powerful, but yet I was not aware of just how powerful.
The beginning of a lifelong practice
The doctors told us that he would be in the hospital for a month — he was out in two weeks. His mother, his donor, also being treated with Reiki, had one of the fastest returns back to normal liver functions that they had seen from a donor. We couldn’t believe how well he was doing.
As he continued to recover extremely well from his transplant, I thought my days of using Reiki would soon be over. But as fate would have it, and as time went on, I would get sick with colds and later with a knee energy. I found myself using Reiki for myself, moving over to the first category.
A powerful tool for healing
I have been in this category for over 22 years, and have seen thousands of people using Reiki for all sorts of ailments, illnesses, and various other concerns. Reiki is very powerful on healing the physical body, it it is equally effective on the other parts of our being — mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. Still, to this day, I am amazed at how powerful and effective this energy is and how it can literally change peoples lives for the better.
Reiki Master Neil Kagan’s diverse background started with martial arts in 1981. This prompted a life-long study and practice of various martial and healing arts, including Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Kung. In 1995, he earned the title of Kung Fu Master (8th degree black belt). He has been teaching classes since 1997.
Learn how to support yourself and your loved ones with energetic healing with Neil and Tobi Gold at the Art of Living Retreat Center from July 13th to July 15th, 2018 at their retreat, Become a Reiki Master.
In House: How Tobi Gold Discovered Reiki
I came to Reiki through teaching Yoga. For years, as I ended a class and people were resting in Savasana, I would place my pointer fingers in the center of my student’s foreheads and spread a little oil. Student’s would often remark, “I really liked the energy I felt from your hands!” I was not a Reiki practitioner then, but hearing those words led me to pursue it.
Finding the right Reiki teacher
In May of 2016, I took Reiki Level I at a lovely Holistic Center in Florida. I’d heard many stories about finding the right teacher, and didn’t understand why that was important. But that was before I had Neil Kagan as my teacher — I knew right away that he was the right teacher for me. In addition to making us feel comfortable with his relaxed approach and great stories, he was not “woo-woo” at all. In fact, he was very grounded, organized, and clear in his communication. I ended up taking all three Levels with him.
Healing from a distance
At Level I, I could practice Reiki on myself. At Level II, I could use Reiki for distance healing. I was telling my old friends from New England all about my newly acquired skill, and as they talked about their various illnesses, I offered to send Reiki to them long-distance. They would “recieve” this energy in a variety of ways, some with relief from pain, some with relaxation and better sleep.
I was so happy that I could help.
Now, as a Level III practitioner, I often use Reiki when I work with clients one-on-one. Reiki, the ability to use universal energy as it comes through my palms, is simple and effective.
Experiences with Reiki
I have one client who experiences chronic pain in his hips and lower back. All I have to do is bring in the Reiki energy and rest my hands in those areas, and he feels relief. Sometimes he falls alseep — a sign of complete relaxation and the absence of pain.
Another client experiences occasional pain from anxiety and tension. For her, I combine Reiki with restorative Yoga. I simply help her get into a comfortable, supported pose and apply the Reiki energy where she is feeling distress. She does experience the heat from my hands, and a deep relaxation with the treatment, which leads to reducing pain: a great gift.
Tobi Gold has been practicing Yoga and Meditation since 2001. She completed her first certification at Kripalu in 2007, and has been teaching Hatha and Vinyasa Flow ever since. In 2016, she took a Reiki Master Program in Florida, taught by Neil Kagan.
Learn how to support yourself and your loved ones with energetic healing with Tobi and Neil Kagan at the Art of Living Retreat Center from July 13th to July 15th, 2018 at their retreat, Become a Reiki Master.
In House: Stacey Vann & Pamela Hunter on Walking Through the Door
Walking through the door
I remember walking through the door to my very first yoga class, and then my first workshop, and finally, not soon enough, my first retreat. The progression of being ready to walk through the door for the different intensities of my yoga journey was all-life giving.
What has yoga given you?
Yoga gave me a home to come to within myself and within community. What has yoga given you? How does yoga feel for you? Do you remember when you first walked through the door? Sometimes we need to free ourselves from our typical daily life in order to sit in the rhythms of our soul.
The magic of awareness
We invite you to sit for a moment here and now and observe your rhythm. Feel your feet and the earth you touch. Notice the motion of your breath. Follow your heartbeat. Sense what you taste in your mouth. Does the taste match what you are smelling? Allow the noises you hear around you to be included. Envision your essence pulsating from within. Our vibrational rhythms support us as we awaken our awareness to feel our essence where we can embrace our innate wisdom, truth, consciousness, and bliss.
An invitation to self-care
Is your heart calling you to interweave your yoga with essential oils, sound, nature, and community? Can you give yourself time and space to walk through the door? Join us for self-care, self-love, and self-reflection at our Awakening Your Essence retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center, from September 21 to 24, 2018.
Find the inner mind you’ve waited so long to.” — Wah
Stacey Vann, E-RYT 500, and Pamela Hunter, E-RYT 500, are the Aloha Sistas. Stacey is a mother of five, Soul-Centered Life Coach, Doula, Reflexologist, and the Founder of the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival and Galactic Child Yoga. Pamela is a mother of two, an Integrated Health Coach, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Certified trainer, and the owner of Fun Lovin’ Wellness.
In House: Wendy Swanson on the Nature of Pain
Some of you may know that I was in a small plane crash in December 2007. As we were crashing I braced myself, trying desperately to “put on the brakes”. Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and I was left with some pretty profound right side low back and hip pain as a result. Now, almost ten years after the crash, my pain is substantially less. In fact, most days I’m unaware of the pain unless something brings it back to the surface.
Before I go into what brings my pain to the surface and my opinion on pain, I want to clarify a few things. I have worked with thousands of people as an acupuncturist and yoga teacher and I KNOW that pain is very, very real. Sometimes pain stems from emotional trauma and manifests in the physical body, and it hurts all the same.
I find that it is absolutely necessary to have a baseline of self-care when trying to heal the body naturally. It is vital to eat healthy foods low in sugar, pesticides and other chemicals, have an exercise routine, and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If we are NOT doing these things our pain will be worse. This is where we need to clean up our act first, in order to successfully allow our bodies to heal.
A deep dive into my own pain
February 2017 my mom, at the young age of 73, passed from Alzheimer’s. In many ways I was prepared and even praying for her passing since she no longer knew herself or anyone else close to her. We had lost her long before her physical body left this earth. Even so, I went into a period of deep mourning and grief.
My emotional anguish showed up a few ways in my body. The first week after my Mom died I got a terrible, hundred tissue a day type of cold. After the cold subsided I was then left with that old, familiar right side back and hip pain. The pain rested mostly at my sacrum and was so severe that I contemplated finally going for a MRI to see what the heck was wrong with me. To know once and for all what had happened to my back after the crash. You see, I never got an x-ray or MRI, because at the time of the crash I was 5 weeks pregnant and did not want to do anything that would harm my growing baby.
The only way out is through
My pain kept intensifying as the weeks passed after my Mom died. I saw my gifted network chiropractor. I saw my therapist. I went to yoga classes. I meditated. I gave myself acupuncture. I rested. In short, I did everything right and yet my low back would not release. What I have come to believe is that my back was literally FEELING the intensity of my emotional loss and pain. There was no getting around it. There was only going through it.
Of course, my emotional pain landed where there had been physical trauma. The instability of my low back and hip are completely real. The pain, though, for ME (and for many, many people that I have worked with) is directly correlated with the stress of my life. My mom’s death = BIG STRESS, BIG SADNESS, BIG GRIEF.
About 5 weeks later I attended a spiritual day long retreat with Dr. Matt Lyon. It was there that I had a profound vision of my Mom. In this vision I saw my Mom happy, dancing and free in a way that she had never been in her earthly life. She clearly communicated with me that she was still with me and always would be. It was almost exactly at that moment that my pain completely disappeared. I had gone from excruciating pain to zero pain in a moment of emotional release.
The emotional and physical body
In the months since that profound emotional healing I’ve had twinges of pain in my back but nothing like it was immediately following her death. I also know that there is a good chance that I will again feel that terrible pain at my sacrum, low back and hip. It will be at a time of great stress. I’m open to NOT feeling that pain, but I will not be surprised if my body once again manifests my emotional state in my body.
I could tell you countless similar stories. I could tell the tale of how I ended up at the urgent care thinking that I had a severe neck issue only to realize that it was my body’s way of dealing with the fact that I was about to let someone go from their job. Or share stories I have heard from my patients. I’m guessing you have your own story or two of pain in the emotional and physical body.
Get into feeling
My solution to our collective pain is one that is probably not all that popular. It is important, though, for us all to hear it.
Get off the pain meds and get into feeling. Get off being a victim to our traumas and get into owning our own stuff. Pain is a reality of life. There is no medication that erases all the pain. There is no self-help book, no guru, no doctor that can make it all better. It might sound overly simplistic and trust me I know it is not always easy.
The answer is about every single day choosing a path of love, forgiveness and healing. If you are living in the United States, reading this blog, then most likely YOU DO have the ability to choose. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain because I see real pain every single day with the people I serve. We still can actively choose our path, to choose love, healing and to seek out help as needed. You are your own answer. You are the solution. And most importantly you CAN choose a path of LOVE & AUTHENTICITY.
Wendy Swanson, L.Ac, E-RYT 200, is a healer, transformational leader, yoga teacher and licensed acupuncturist. Wendy has been leading groups for over 15 years both domestically and internationally. She is an open hearted yoga instructor who is currently studying at Kripalu to obtain her 500 hour yoga certification. As a licensed acupuncturist for over ten years, Wendy’s strives to help people live a life filled with greater ease, joy, well-being and balance. Wendy owns Be Yoga & Wellness in Charlotte, NC.