Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When it gets too heavy, lighten up with chanting!

There's few bigger transitions in life then the ones required of us in childbirth.  And whether your enduring the title wave contractions of  active labor or the slower, more choppy waters of the first year at home with your newborn, feeling grounded can give you the confidence you need to ride it out and get to the other side, ready to take on the challenge of a new way of being.

In the circle on our yoga mats we learn to feel the experience of being more grounded  by actively pushing the bones of our feet or hands into the earth, and being receptive to the rebound force that helps to stabilize our foundation. We can use the same principle to feel more grounded in light by expressing ourselves vocally wih chanting, humming or even singing.  Called chakras, our body houses subtle, concentrated areas of energy, and it's our third chakra, in the throat area that when activited can hold our awareness evenly through the core of our being, vertically, acting like a tunnel of lightness for us to ride.

It is our bones that have a strong affinity for gravity, and they help to keep us down, earth bound.  In contrast, our expression of sound has a strong affinity for our awareness, and helps move us up, to lighter fare.  Together, the two opposing forces help keep us balanced, at center ground.

Too, we can deepen our experience of  "core lightness" by using the corresponding cobalt blue color of the throat chakra and its related influence on our skeletal system. So as we chant the sound a-u-m, we imagine our bones the color of the caribbean waters or that of  a clear blue sky.

Enduring the most difficult challenges in our lives like those of childbirth can open up new pathways in our being. So when the opportunity arises for us to take our next step, we can reach for it, and knowing all of you the way I do, we simply can't miss!



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Childcare available January 2013

To my favorite yoginis,

 I am very excited to offer childcare services in both pre and postnatal classes. What follows are guidelines for using our childcare services.

1.   Availability:  11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

2. Cost: $15. per hour to be paid equally by those women using the service.

3. Confirmation:  of attendance the Friday prior to attending the Saturday class.

4. Children must be able to walk.  Crawlers and stationary babies are welcome to join us in class.

I hope this provides a new opportunity for you to continue and expand your practice.  Consider a commitment to  your yoga mat a gift to yourself for the New Year.


Maurene C. Merritt, RN, Yoga Teacher

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grunt like a tennis pro!

It is of great interest to me, that a female tennis champion like Maria Sharapova feels free to do whatever it takes on a court to achieve her goal, including making this earthy, primitive sound coined "grunting" in front of a global audience, and when I encourage a woman to make sound on her birthing bed in the privacy of her family, more often than not, there is resistance.

 Time and again, I witness women that allow themselves the freedom to express birth vocally will have shorter, easier more satisfying experiences. One of my teachers, internationally recognized  Bonnie Bridge Cohen of BodyMind Centering elaborates.  She believes that sounding supports the vitality and function of a tissue through toning.  Toning vibrates tissue and when we direct our attention to the area of sensation, the tissue becomes more alive.  In the case of labor, sounding can allow a woman to move easier through a contraction because it will gently awaken her to her capacity to move at a vibrational level.

Consider that our hesitation to sound is one of self esteem.  Women like Maria Sharapova our coached intensely, daily, monumentally to believe in themselves.  Such coaching may seem out of reach for many women who are struggling with the day to day demands of caring for their young children, careers, and running a household.  However, consider without a coach, realizing one's full potential  is extremely difficult, maybe even impossible. 

You have available to you a committed, passionate experienced teacher who wants nothing more than for you to realize how gifted and strong you really are.  In the circle, we practice making sound which not only helps us move through resistance, but it also supports the goal of yoga; to remember our vibrational origins.  So when you allow yourself the freedom to sound on your birthing bed, consider that you chime in tune with all of creation.  Then you'll have the support of an audience that far exceeds Wimbleton's!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7 yoga practices to help us move beyond...

We get stuck.  On our mats, it is called "inflexible", on our birthing beds, "failure to progress", and on paper, a "writer's block".  And whether it's our bodies not opening or our paint brush or words not flowing, our desires can lead to unimaginable frustration. In such moments, we are tempted to force the outcome, or in the case of our creative expression where sheer force would only hinder progression, we either give up after reaching a multitude of dead ends or worse yet fail to begin the exploration.
However, when we look to our ancient, sister yoginis who journeyed the long, narrow road to enlightenment,  consider that it would be beneficial for us to breathe, listen, and wait.  More often than not, when we begin something new, change is slow, even barely perceptible. It is when we persist with confidence, at some point, soon after we have allowed ourselves to move beyond our feelings of hopeless and despair, it happens. What is a ordinary perception of our selves wanes and we become privy to our granduer. In such precious, unbound moments, our bodies fold into our creation and we give birth to our babies, books, and elation!

 We  look back on the fruits of our labor and like our lovely Heather Benway of the circle declared of her birth story, want to hear the words over and over again. We feel awe, how could something so amazing, so brilliant, so original come out of us!   Consider that our effort in waiting is well worth our creation.
Below are 7 yoga practices to help  us move beyond.
1. Close the door. Surrender requires feeling safe.
2. Breathe. Keep your breathe fluid and even. There is a synergistic relationship between the mind and the breathe. When the breathe is balanced, your mind will follow.
3. Focus. Give your attention to something that you love that is still like a plant, coat, or perfume bottle.
4. Listen. You know more than what you think you know.
5. Change. Do something different if you don't feel movement frequently.
6. Feel. Allow your desire to drive your effort.
7. Persevere. Never give up, keep the course until the very end.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stand up for yourself!

It's brave, to take action when you are feeling at your most vulnerable, surrounded by people that are perceived to have more power than you. That's exactly what our seasoned yogini Sara Varvaro did, when at 10 centimeters dilated, getting ready to push declared to her care providers that she needed to get out of her bed, and did! Sara had walked through most of her labor, singing to her baby as each contraction climbed (the way we did in class), being still at the peak, and then eager to receive her husband Chad's gentle touch as the contraction subsided. She found being in bed unworkable, unacceptable. Trust me, if Sara's move to get out of bed was dangerous to either her or her baby there would have been strong opposition to her movement. Consider that if Sara had not found the courage to assert herself her labor may have taken a very different course, one that may not have aligned with her intention for natural childbirth (which she was able to realize).
Can we be so inspired by Sara's act of bravery to want to learn the skills necessary to take immediate, appropriate action when the situation calls for it? Unfortunately so often in challenging, stressful situations we either freeze or flee, the only two established responses from our automatic nervous system. We look back on the situation and wished we would have had more clarity to respond in a different, more powerful, appropriate way.
Birth Blessings Yoga is steeped in the study and practice of our origins which includes knowledge that our nervous system stores unlimited possibility. Consider that every time we come to our yoga mat there is opportunity to step out of our comfort zone. For example, inversions (going up side down) and balancing poses require pushing through fear while standing poses demand more strength for stability and a solid grounding to the earth. Over time with continued practice, these movements enliven our nervous system to provide for alternative pathways that quite naturally will respond on or off of our mat. Then when the moment arises that we need to stand up for our self, we have the capacity, strength and ability to rise to the occasion. And just like Sara's action may very well have altered the course of her labor, we too may change the course of our lives when we take right action in life's most challenging situations.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Avoiding the pitfalls of emotionally charged events

Giving birth can be like the mother of the bride, there both highly charged emotional events. If we are not mindful, we can end up limping down the aisle from all of the knee jerk reactions rather than walking at a pace that allows for walking with our best foot forward.
When we were infants, we had primitive reflexes that caused us to move towards or away from something for our survival. At some point in our development, when we could act with greater choice, the reflexes became integrated into our automatic nervous system and no longer guided our movements. Recent research suggests that enlivening these reflexes provides for a more resilient, stable foundation for greater ease in our movement.
It takes a tremendous amount of strength and integrity to refrain from acting when we feel overwhelmed with feelings. However consider that if we have the strength to birth our babies that we have the capacity to maintain our composer until we feel clarity before acting. Then, when we do our emotional life can be more like our primitive reflexes, feelings are allowed to surface and be acknowledged but no long have the power to guide our movement. We then can walk the earth as intended, with grace, ease, strength and receptivity.
In pre and postnatal yoga tomorrow September 21st we will explore to enliven the 5 primitive reflexes that supported our initial spinal movement,and practice maintaining our composure despite what may seem overwhelming inside or outside of us.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prayers of freedom for Galina

“Freedom” was the word of reflection, and Galina Feeley who sits very pregnant in the center of our circle said she just wants more of it! I’m sure it was her adopted American mother, Barbara who joined us for a private partnered yoga session to help support her daughter in labor, who first gave Galina a taste of freedom. But it makes perfect sense to me that a Russian born young woman who spent much of her formative years in an orphanage cared for by what sounds to me like broken down, misguided women rallies at the idea of more!
We can help free Galina through the power of what we have experienced for ourselves, that when we give birth to our babies, the heart opens wide and we are completely free. Consider that in this unbound state that our thoughts are pure and all powerful. So I graciously request each of us to remember those precious moments during childbirth, the time when we felt completely renewed and able to be and do anything and from that space, send your care to Galina.
Let us pray as a collective that Galina experience her own wholeness and that it carries her, like the mother that she longed for years ago.
My teacher says that such an act is called compassion and it relieves the one who inspired it from their suffering. Please send your heart felt prayer to Galina and help her be the loving mother that is in her heart to know.