SEASONAL SELF-CARE BLOG
Sing to your hearts content
Posted on June 16th, 2015
Open up your voice and sing from your heart to infuse your spirit with the joyful abundance of Summer.
I took this picture when I was in Thailand in 2014 studying Thai massage with master teacher, Pichest Boonthumee. My favorite thing to do when traveling in Asia is to get up early and walk through the open air markets. The streets and markets are buzzing with life and vitality. Our first day studying thai massage with Pichet, we were to arrive at 9am with offerings- flowers, incense, and fruit. So I got up early and went to the market. I was mesmorized by the intricate beautiful flower offerings that were on display. People of all walks of life were purchasing them on their way to work. The daily flower art offerings hung everywhere, on the mirror in the rickshaws, on the bow of the boats, in the restaurants, on the spirit houses and temples. Gratitude in the form of these beautiful ephemeral works of flower art were lusciously everywhere. They make me so happy.
As the Summer solstice is here, I share with you the beauty of these flower offerings. Our gardens are blooming and the bounty of the Summer is shining everywhere. According to Chinese Medicine, Summer is the time to nourish the heart and small intestine. When talking about the heart, Chinese medicine includes the physical heart as well as the mind or consciousness of our being. The heart circulates the blood through the body, houses the spirit, and is responsible for maintaining awareness. The heart-mind is said to sprout at the tongue. Speech and song emerge from the heart center as fragrant blossoms emerging from the stem and root. I am reminded of our phrase in English “Sing to your heart’s content”.
People with a balanced heart-mind shine not only through their generous, joyous, loving presence but also through their clarity of speech and thought. They are good communicators, highly articulate and aware. For most of us, unfortunately, our heart-mind’s are scattered and confused. Constant media stimulus and the fragmentation of our modern lives leaves us with frighteningly short attention spans, and a constant stream of agitated, anxious thoughts whirling in our mind. Our thoughts become diffused, disjointed, and our speech confused or rambling. These are signs that our heart-mind is out of balance.
To strengthen the heart-mind and gather your scattered thoughts, sing and explore voice centered practices this Summer. It is the perfect time to delve into the beautiful Indian devotional chanting practices of kirtan, and mantra. Chanting in the sacred language of Sanskrit helps focus your mind and invites forward your innate state of spaciousness, clarity and pure awareness. Chanting is like a vibrational form of flower offerings-strings of sacred sound garlands offered from the heart.
“The word mantra is derived from the words manama (‘thinking’) and trana ( ‘liberation’). In other words, a mantra is a potent form of thought, an instrument of conscious intention.
Georg Feuerstein, “The Yoga Tradition”
‘Because the mantra is an expression of a more evolved consciousness, it offers a unique link with that higher level. For this reason, it not only makes the path to higher consciousness clearer by replacing interfering thoughts, its gradual incorporation pulls consciousness toward that state.’”
Swami Rama, “Yoga & Psychotherapy”
Join us for joyful sonic explorations this Summer through our Art of Sound Module!
Q & A with Yoga Sukhavati Graduate Kelly Voegelin
Posted on June 15th, 2015
When did you start practicing yoga? How did you find yoga?
I found yoga in 2006 while living abroad in Buenos Aires. I was in search of something that would better my life on a physical & emotional level. I was very fortunate to begin with private Iyengar lessons.
How has the practice changed your life?
I am able to connect with my own needs, energies and emotions in a way that feels nourishing & genuine. Yoga allows me to do that on a physical & mental level.
What were you doing before you took your training?
I was working at Christie’s Auction House as an art handler.
Why did you decide to take a 200-hr teacher training?
I was ready to commit to my practice in the fullest way possible and ready to change my life.
What stands out the most about your experience from your teacher training?
How grateful I feel about having done it. It truly changed my attitude and approach toward how I live.
How has the Yoga Sukhavati training transformed your life? What are you doing now?
Sukhavati provided many ways to approach ones practice and teaching…As a life practice. How my yoga practice is informed by Ayurveda & Chinese medicine never ceases to inspire me. I can design my practice or what I plan to teach around so many things: the moon or my own monthly cycle, the seasons or weather or external changes, certain organs or the meridian lines connected to balancing them, intentions and meditations and mudras…
I am now teaching group classes, private lessons and after school art a few days a week to young children.
How was it to work with Leigh?
Leigh is an extremely knowledgeable and reliable teacher. She inspires me to continue my curiosities and exploration of asana and the yoga sukhavati curriculum as a whole. Her classes are fun, informative and infused with information.
What advice would you give to someone who was on the fence about doing a 200-hour teacher training?
Do it. You’ll never regret it. It’s an act of self care and life change. And you’ll meet wonderful, supportive friends and teachers along the way.
What stood out to you about the Yoga Sukhavati 300-hour Advanced training?
Practicing with seasonal change and the organs we need to nourish during those shifts has really resonated with me.
What do you like most about teaching yoga?
I’m able to offer a practice of self care and sustainability to those who show up to it. It not only gives me pleasure to serve my community but I always feel so happy at the beginning and end of each class.
You can find Kelly teaching at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg, Loom Yoga Center in Bushwick and Usha Veda in Greenpoint. Visit her website for more!
Freeing your voice as a yoga teacher
Posted on June 5th, 2015
One of the most unrecognized areas in many yoga teacher trainings is the development of the voice of the teacher. Many people are drawn to become a yoga teacher for the physical practice, internal spaciousness and peacefulness it awakens inside. However, as they begin to teach, they quickly realize that most of their communication with their students comes through their voice. Many people are not used to talking in front of a group of people. They don’t have the vocal support to sustain their voice for a 90 minute class. Many yoga teachers often loose their voice because of the strain of teaching two or three 90 minute classes a day several times a week. Unfortunately one of their weakest skills, their voice, is one of their most important tools as a yoga teacher. In response to this need, I have created a module in our Yoga Sukhavati Advanced Teacher Training entirely dedicated to freeing the voice of a yoga teacher-The Art of Sound.
The Art of Sound immersion will help you free your natural voice. Awaken your voice so that it becomes a powerful vehicle for communication for you and your students. Explore your voice through exercises designed to open, support, and strengthen your voice. Dive deeply into your divine self through the ancient devotional vocal practices of kirtan, mantra and the beauty of the sanskrit language. Bask in the sonic healing vibrations of gong baths and awaken pranic pathways, energy channels and organs, through using your voice in asana.
love & light!