Pass the Flame By Lauren

Pass the Flame By Lauren

Have you ever been drawn to darkness? It possesses this seemingly undying power to reel us in and keep us close. Yes, I am speaking slightly metaphorically and don’t mean to sound too demonizing, but everywhere I look, every screen I turn on, and every conversation I take part in lately seems to revolve around this darkness. Aside from this past cold winter seeming unusually long, the weight of the war-torn world has been tossed onto our shoulders, many of us much too young to carry this weight, by all different kinds of media; particularly by the little “smart” tool most of us now hold in our hands the majority of the day.  Maybe you’re even using it to read this right now, however, I promise I won’t linger on the darkness for long, so please continue to read. Saturday, April 15th, began with hearing news that shook me to the core, as I’m sure it did to us all here in these quiet towns of Central Massachusetts. It reopened a wound I knew would take some time to heal again. That night I attended my first Easter vigil mass. It’s a mass meant for healing, rejuvenating, and new beginnings. Arriving right on time, the chapel was full, the atmosphere, solemn. As we made our way to a few open seats, I looked up and realized not a single light was on, and each person was holding an unlit candle. The ceremony began in the back of the chapel where we slowly found light as a bonfire was ignited. A few moments later, a flame was passed to one...

Abundance in the Mud By Molly

Abundance in the Mud   This year, I’ll have to wait a little longer for walks through the woods in early spring, because as I write this on April 1st, I’m looking outside and seeing ice and snow. But I’m willing to wait a little longer, as there is something magical about those quiet springtime walks. The still snow-damp earth soft underfoot. The first green shoots nudging out of the ground and toward the light. The way my heart seems to beat in slow, steady rhythm with the slow, steady rhythm of nature herself. And then there is the smell! The sweet smell of spring, mud-rich and fresh. These springtime walks have a way of calming me. I can come to the woods and be assured and supported by nature. I feel grounded with my feet on dark soil and winter-wet leaves. I come out of the grip of some petty thought, leave my to-do list behind when I hear the nuthatch’s song or the drumming of the woodpecker on a hollow tree. And I arrive.   In your yoga classes, you have probably heard the term grounding used. And in fact, many yoga teachers are conscious of leaving space for students to ground and center at the start of practice, whether in silence and stillness or grounding into the physicality of the body. It’s very common to come to your mat with the sound of your boss’s voice still in your head, your proverbial check-list is still unchecked, or you’re thinking about your half-filled fridge at home and the dinner that is not going to make itself. You...
Shutting Off The Stress Response With Meditation By Marissa Fratoni

Shutting Off The Stress Response With Meditation By Marissa Fratoni

Shutting Off The Stress Response With Meditation By Marissa Fratoni   Fear is an emotional reaction to a perceived threat to our well-being. It lets us know when we’re in danger. It lets us know when we need to act appropriately to steer away from said danger. It is a powerful emotion indeed. So powerful that it can take over our psyches and start doing incredible damage in our lives. So how does this work? This whole fear damaging our lives thingy? To gain a basic understanding, let’s talk about the nervous system. We all have two divisions of the nervous system — our voluntary system, and our autonomic system. The voluntary system is the one that can be controlled by conscious thought. We use the voluntary system when we control our breathing, when we decided to stand from a seated position, when we’re driving a vehicle for example. The autonomic system (I call it the “automatic” nervous system) is one that is not controlled by conscious thought. It’s the part of the nervous system that keeps our hearts beating, keeps our digestive systems working, and keeps us breathing when we’re not thinking about it (very important!) The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two divisions — the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS.) Each division has it’s own set of functions, but for simplicity-sake, we’re just gonna focus on the body’s stress response as it relates to fear. The sympathetic nervous system is the more well-known division of this nervous system. The SNS is responsible for the fight-0r-flight response. The system that puts you in an active...
Ostara: Finding equilibrium in the extremes By Mandi Garrison

Ostara: Finding equilibrium in the extremes By Mandi Garrison

  Have you noticed the uptick in anxious energy? Most places I go seem hurried, dry, ready to break. People are noticeably rushed, and there are extremes of emotional responses and angry outbursts. Does this sound like your world lately? Even the weather is extreme, with the pendulum swinging from 70 degrees to snow. Just as we start to get excited about spring, we wake up with a nor’easter outside. It isn’t all bad. Really. We tend to live in a world of extremes, and when the pendulum swings one way, it naturally swings to the other side. But we have the choice to remain in a neutral place. Michael Singer said to stop the pendulum from swinging to the extremes, simply let it go. “Don’t participate in [the extremes], and the pendulum will naturally come to the center. As it comes to the center, you will get filled with energy.” This is our opportunity during the Spring Equinox, or Ostara, on March 20. I know it isn’t an easy thing to do. When we spend months hiding in the shadow of winter, with more dark than light, in the comfort of our warm homes—the shifting balance of light and dark can feel like being pulled out of the metaphorical womb, and tossed into the real world. When we enter the Spring Equinox, we cross from the dreamy, creative, and watery sign of Pisces to the fast, energetic, fiery energy of Aries. We cross through the threshold to the beginning of the astrological wheel where anything is possible. Aries is cardinal fire—the fire starter. Aries energy is a necessity...
Ahimsa and Tech Timeouts – By Sawrah

Ahimsa and Tech Timeouts – By Sawrah

If you’ve ever been to a class at CMYW, then you have probably heard the Sanskrit word Ahimsa. As the first Yama, it is basically our secondary studio motto. It is translated roughly as non-harming or non-violence.We often use it as a way to show our students not to go “too far” with their bodies and to respect their boundaries while still learning to find their edge and grow. Ahimsa is also why you find a lot of yogi vegetarians who don’t kill insects; both considered non-harming practices. Ahimsa though, is broader than that. It trickles into every area of our life, our body, our spirit, and how we enter the world. It is also often said that it applies to thought, word and deed.   I recently had a birthday and engaged in some personal life review, as often happens around birthdays and the turn of a new year. At first,  I found myself completely ignoring Ahimsa, being harsh and harming in my thoughts and words towards myself. The negativity towards myself in thought, word and deed, was subtle but often times it was glaring. I examined this a little further to get to the root of it and I found it to be linked with some specific behavior that I am always monitoring but not always taking action around, my technology use. I found that after I spent time on social media (which honestly I have to do for work, but can often get sidetracked), my ahimsa in thought went out the window, towards myself, towards others, towards the world. My negative self talk peak for the...

You Carry Your Magic Inside By Stephanie F. Earls

    Browse the internet, social media or certain yoga publications and you might get the impression that a mastered practice requires specific physical ability or certain clothes, beads or candles. You might think you have not gotten “there” unless you study with a revered teacher, practice hours a day or can do a challenging pose. But something yogis, especially teachers, come up against is how to show yoga without giving the impression that the show is the thing. The truth of yoga can not be shown, it must be experienced.  What we show (even this blog in words and picture) is a metaphor that attempts to hint at the truth that yoga points us to, the truth that is in us. Yoga and healing are not about the props or crystals or candles or clothes. Beautiful symbols, inspiring icons and our teachers can help us focus and enrich our surroundings or they can become crutches in the pursuit of self care and self realization. One of my intentions as a teacher is to equip students with the ability to free themselves by discerning between externals that support the journey inward and externals that distract or create dependence. I am in it (this work) to share ideas and ways to practice that have freed and empowered me. I teach to help others learn to teach (and free) themselves.   Like an invisible turtle shell, yoga provides safe refuge from the pitfalls of life: self doubt, worry, anxiety, aggravation, illness, addiction, grief.…and like invisible wings, yoga lifts us to the joys of life: peace of mind, health in body, love...
The Third Wing of the Butterfly By Mandi

The Third Wing of the Butterfly By Mandi

    Jupiter just stationed retrograde, and has been sitting at 24 degrees of Libra for the past week. The sabian symbol for this degree is “A third wing on the left side of a butterfly.” Whether or not you are as interested in astrology as I am (which is more than most people, I’ll admit), this is a fascinating and powerful symbol. The butterfly is the quintessential symbol of transformation, and this is a transformational time.   The other night I had a dream that I was on a bus with several people I know and see on a regular basis. I don’t recall where the bus was going, but I noticed it started to swerve and act erratically. I turned to the person I was sitting next to and said, “I think this bus is going to crash.” She was doubtful, thought I was overreacting, and said, “The bus doesn’t crash. We will get to the destination.” I was insistent. “This bus IS GOING to crash, and you need to shield yourself.” I created a protective shield around her just in time before the bus toppled over and crashed, leaving almost everyone injured and shaken up. People were standing around hurt, crying, and worried — and yet, they were all waiting impatiently for the bus to be fixed so they could get back on. I couldn’t understand this. The bus crashed, the driver was probably drunk, we know it will lead to angst, and yet you still want to get back on?   Think about what happens when inevitable change comes into our lives. The first reaction...
Forgiveness By Kayla

Forgiveness By Kayla

“Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” Jonathan Lockwood Huie   Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do as a human being. Forgiving others or even ourselves takes great strength to do. Sometimes, we need to forgive others not because we are ready to move forward with them in our lives, but for ourselves. The more we hold on to the negative thoughts and energy the more of a toxic life we are living. Forgiveness is not an easy thing, forgetting what has happened is not easy. Whether it is a friend that has hurt us or a loved one, forgiveness is needed for us so we can move on. I always thought I was a forgiving person. I always let go of the past and not hold grudges. I was challenged by this for the past few months, which inspired me to write about this for the blog. My father dedicated his whole life working for his father in law’s business. When my grandfather passed, there were hard feelings to the point where my aunt locked my father out of the company. My father lost everything. As a yogi, I did not get involved especially where it was family. I waited for everything to be resolved. I waited three months and nothing was resolved or done. Other members of the family had not stepped in and were ignoring the situation and I was becoming frustrated. I was focusing more on my yoga practice and my meditation to let out some of the frustration. Not only was I becoming frustrated over...
The Hope of Imbolc: Celebrating the Halfway Point of Winter and the Return of the Sun By Mandi

The Hope of Imbolc: Celebrating the Halfway Point of Winter and the Return of the Sun By Mandi

    The Hope of Imbolc: Celebrating the Halfway Point of Winter and the Return of the Sun “…as Imbolc rises, the energy changes. The snowdrops are flowering, the crocuses elbowing their way through the soil. Though the nights are still long and the air is even colder, we know the tides of the year have turned. The sun is rising nearer to the east, there are lambs in the fields on wobbly legs, shaking their tails. If not yet inspired to clean out the kitchen cupboards and repaint the skirting, we are starting to formulate, to create from those plans that have been greatly cooking deep inside. It’s time to consider making tentative first steps.” — Emma Restall Orr About two weeks ago, I suddenly had this incredible urge to declutter my home. I was sitting on the couch, looking at my surroundings, and thinking about the million-and-a-half things I had to do, when I realized: “I can’t get anything done until I get my house in order.” Now, it wasn’t that my house was particularly messy or disorganized — there was just TOO MUCH STUFF. How did I accumulate so much? Where did it come from? And why now? Have you ever wanted to take a class or read about something or study for a test, but you couldn’t do it until you got the right binder, the best planner, new pens, a tidy work space, a new computer, etc.? There is something deeply ingrained in the human mind that needs to create a sense of order and space before we can tackle new projects. This behavior...

Rebalancing Your Life: Tips for Healthy Living By Lucy

    Rebalancing Your Life: Tips for Healthy Living   At this time of the year we are all looking at our lives; rebalancing our investment s, gathering information for our tax returns, etc.   How about rebalancing our health?   Make an intention to start with simple activities, like walking or yoga.  Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase.   It will help blood sugar levels and reduce tension. Below are some ways I have successfully rebalanced my health:   1- Eat a rainbow of whole foods:  Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined and are free from additives or other artificial substances.   These foods are as close to nature as possible.  TIP:  I try to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. 2- Read food labels:   I read labels on everything at the grocery store and if there are more than 5 ingredients or if I can’t pronounce the ingredients, I move on.   I try to purchase naturally raised, organic, hormone and antibiotic free animal protein.   I also try to avoid processed soy and corn. 3- Eat gentle sweets:  Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar.    I use gentle sweeteners like honey, real grade B maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and stevia.  Sugar causes chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, premature aging, joint stiffness and it is addictive.    I enjoy blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, carrots, sweet potatoes and even a little raw honey when cravings strike my sweet tooth.   TIP:  4 grams = 1 tsp. of sugar. 4- Try Probiotics:  Probiotics encourage good gut flora and boost our immune system.   70% of...