Curious C*nt Podcast – Ep2: Menstruation (Moon Cycles), Astrology, & Sacred Nudity

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Episode 2 of the Curious C*nt is now available to stream on my Patreon page!

Sabrina Ourania is an international women’s retreat leader, yoga teacher, shamanic astrologer, and creator of Goddess Alchemist (website launching this week!).

In this episode, Sabrina and I talk about her coaching work with women which includes working with astrology, goddess archetypes, and moon cycles (menstruation). She shares about her life, practices, and how she began to consume her menstrual blood as a healing practice!

We also talk a little bit about her views and philosophies on astrology, her recent nude road trip, and many other interesting topics!

Here’s the first 8 minutes of the podcast to give you a little taste:

Click here to stream the rest of this episode. On the right, click “Become a Patron.”

This video explains a little better what my podcast is about and what Patreon is:

You can also connect with and learn more about Sabrina here:
Website: goddessalchemist.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/GoddessAlchemist
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/goddess_alchemist

Balasana – Finding an Internal Practice

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Balasana, or Child’s Pose, is an ideal posture to help us remember that yoga is an internal practice. We are closed to the outside world and our inner self is protected. This is an especially important pose in public classes because it forces us back into ourselves. It can be difficult not to compare our body with the other bodies in the room.

Practicing with others can be uplifting and empowering, but it can also sometimes be embarrassing. It’s okay, we’re human. Sometimes we feel weird and awkward in our bodies. It’s inevitable, and every day is different. Let me repeat: Yoga is an internal practice.

What’s going on in your body is important, don’t get me wrong. An internal practice just means you are completely in YOUR body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Not anyone else’s. Our internal life is what keeps us coming back to the mat. We can do the same poses every single day, but they will usually feel different every single time, depending on all the variables in play (time of day, how we feel, what we’re thinking about, what we dreamt about, what we did the day before, the list goes on and on).

An internal practice means: be in your body and be in yourself. Be completely in your body, but remember these asanas, these postures, are not here for us to adhere to as if they were rigid rules we must follow to the tee so we can belong to the yoga cult. Rather, the postures are tools for us to use and for our bodies to receive as such. When you move into a posture, let your body receive it. Then let your body receive your breath.

There are many modifications that make a pose more accessible for your body. Balasana is all about relaxation, rest, and coming back to the breath. If we’re not comfortable, we can’t relax, rest, or breathe! So get comfortable! Here are a few modifications for balasana that can help us relax:

  1. Separate your knees. This is helpful if you’ve a little too much pizza, or if you’re pregnant. I prefer this version and almost always take balasana with my knees apart.
  2. Rest your head on something. If the forehead doesn’t reach the mat comfortably, place a block underneath or stack the arms to make a pillow.
  3. Rest the hips on something. If the hips don’t reach the heels, place a bolster or rolled-up blanket underneath the hips.
  4. Relax the arms. Whether your arms are overhead, down by your side, or tucked up in between your knees, make sure they are relaxed!

This list is by no means exhaustive. I would love to hear how you rest and restore in balasana!

My daughter, Gianna, in two modifications of balasana, Child’s Pose. Unsurprisingly, this pose usually comes easily to children!

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How do you see yourself?

At a yoga and meditation workshop last weekend, I participated in didactic dialogues with three other people. This was my first experience with the concept.

We were put in pairs. One person was the asker, and was instructed not to say anything other than asking the single question, make any facial expressions, or display any sign of empathy towards the other person. The person being asked the question was to continue talking for ten minutes. Our first question was:

How do you see yourself?

Then we would switch roles. Inevitably, the dialogue becomes a monologue and one cannot help but delve into the depths of the self. This self-investigation and exploration is an essential aspect of the yoga practice. It’s part of the second limb of yoga, the niyamas. Desikachar translates this Sanskrit word to mean “self discipline”. Among the niyamas, there is svadhyaya, or self-study.

To do yoga is get to know oneself. It’s an intense, intimate undertaking. It strips away all the nice, comfortable layers and leaves nothing untouched. It’s only a matter of time before the self, the ego, and all other working parts are put under a microscope.

It’s not just about discovering the bad things, though, the things we’d rather not think about. It’s also realizing that those things we think are so awful, really aren’t. A wonderful side effect of this medicine is that we’re so busy examining our own lives that we don’t have time to judge anyone else’s. Why do we judge people in the first place? Probably because there is something inside us that we’d rather avoid.

This weekend inspired me to do a little more digging. So I got out my scissors and some poster board. I’d been meaning to cut up some old Yoga Journal magazines, anyway. So, here is my visual response to the question, “How do you see yourself?” (Click on it to make it bigger!)

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Love What You Do

“You are not what you do.”

“Your job does not define you.”

We’ve all heard these statements before. What you do, your job, and responsibilities are not what defines you as a person. However, the jobs we do and the roles we fill are important. Being integrated with them and enjoying them can enhance life, making you more fully you.

And what are you? Our entire being is not just a physical body and a personality. It has mental, spiritual, and emotional faculties. Are you what other people see you as? The little glimpses leaked to the world? Of course not. Yet we still want to believe that others are right about us. We tell ourselves the same stories repeatedly about why we are a certain way and can’t be anything else. Sometimes this even occurs unconsciously.

lovewhatyoudocropThis morning, I taught yoga and my heart was full of love for the students who woke up early on a Sunday morning to come to class, and for this healing practice of yoga. Again my heart was full this afternoon, after I coached gymnastics. My heart was full of love for the little girls who work hard with discipline, for myself for encouraging these beautiful girls and being a positive presence in their lives, for my boss who mentors me and pushes me to be not only a better coach, but a better person.

A year ago, I was working a different job, as a full-time manager. When I would leave work, my heart was not full. I felt exhausted, under-appreciated, and stressed. Someone else may find joy in that job and truly love it. But it didn’t fill my heart the way teaching yoga and gymnastics does and it did not help me live more fully as me. It beat me down and made me feel like I was trying to fit my square self into the round perception of others.

Be yourself, blah, blah, blah. We know it. We know it in our heads, but do we believe it in our hearts? A lot of the time we don’t, because we let our minds rule us and not the other way around.

The fourth chapter of Patanjali’s yoga sutras is my favorite because it talks about the benefits of mental learning while acknowledging its dangers. Verse 18 defines us as the Perceiver, the “non-changing master of the mind.”

Verse 23 continues:

“The mind serves a dual purpose:

  1. Serves the Perceiver by presenting the external world to it.
  2. Respects or presents the Perceiver to itself for its own enlightenment.”

So, I am me. You are you. I am not my mind. You are not your mind. The mind is available to use as a tool for enlightenment. It provides the ability to see all the qualities in us that are limitless and not constrained by the mind. In order to see the beauty of these possibilities, we must become the master over our mind.

I now realize, training my mind through the practices of yoga, I am able to do what I love and make a living. The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. For a long time, I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough. But that was my mind talking. Now, accepting myself as the Perceiver, I can tell my mind what to think.

So, rein in your mind and stop believing false stories about yourself. Be you, whatever that means. Do what makes your heart full.

Two Teachers

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After graduating from teacher training, two teachers emerged in me. One was fully equipped with yoga knowledge and armed with experience from a home practice. The other was an inadequate fool who had barely touched the surface of yoga.

A year later, these two teachers still reside within me. There are times when I feel like I don’t know shit about yoga! But there are also times when I am able to share what little knowledge I have and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

I may not know everything, but I have some experience. By now, I have taught dozens of people and looked at dozens of different bodies in dozens of different yoga poses. I’ve learned a lot about the human body and how yoga can heal it. This has only deepened my love for the practice and the will to share what I love.

The teacher in me who feels confident and prepared is the one that guides a class, adjusts a student, and uses Sanskrit. All the while leaving room to grow, learn, and improve. It’s okay if I don’t know everything. That would be a big, scary burden.

The teacher in me who still feels inadequate is the one that goes to someone else’s class, reads articles on Yoga International, watches Kino MacGregor’s videos, and keeps on hand books by Iyengar and Desikachar. This is the teacher who is really the student, walking around with an empty cup, begging for tea (or vodka, or a fresh green juice, as the case may be) from willing masters.

mefaceCheck out the parable of the empty cup here.

My deepest fear: A disclaimer

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Once upon a time, there lived a great master who had an apprentice. One day, the master invited his pupil to tea. The master himself poured tea into the student’s empty cup. After the cup was filled, the master continued to pour piping hot tea into the cup and it began to overflow. Tea spilled over into the saucer and onto the table.

“Master, what are you doing? My cup is full.”

“Yes, it is. A cup cannot be filled unless it is empty.”

This is not a new story. It’s not the first time it has been told, nor shall it be the last. It is, however, an important lesson for each of us in just about every aspect of life. Draining oneself of all expectation and presumption allows new ideas to be considered. This is not to say that everything must be accepted without question. On the contrary, an open heart and mind allows for more careful decision and deliberation. It allows for the transmutation of old thoughts and beliefs into a more complete view of life.

I have always loved writing and splattering my guts onto an empty page. However, it has mostly been in the comfort of my own home without exposing my innards for anyone else to see. It’s safer this way, you see. No one to judge or criticize. No one to point out that my thoughts are cliche’ or have already been written in a much more eloquent, profound way. Or worse, no one to tell me that I am flat out wrong.

Because that is my deepest fear: To be wrong. How could I be so daft as to overlook an important fact or not consider another facet of life? How could I not have carefully weighed all the options and formed a thought so unbiased and whole that it would be loved and accepted by everyone that reads it?

The truth is, that my thoughts and opinions will always be biased, depending on my mood, the time of day, where Mars is in the sky at the moment, whether I’ve done my yoga practice yet or not, what the weather is like outside, and if my feet are cold. Not all my thoughts and opinions will be loved and accepted by everyone. Some may even say that I am wrong.

It has taken me 31 years to come to terms with this. Although, I have accepted the possibility of being wrong, here is my remedy for overcoming my deepest fear: The Empty Cup, the cop out. With this disclaimer, I am free to say whatever I please and you have to at least consider it because if you don’t, you’re committing the worst offense imaginable (on this blog) – arriving and reading with a full cup.

Sometimes we are the teacher and sometimes we are the student. Our amount of expertise, experience, and intellect notwithstanding, because even the most learned among us still have lessons to learn. And even the most uneducated, dithering fool has lessons to teach.

If I have something to say, I will say it. It will be authentic, from my heart, and without regard to what anyone else thinks. It may be simple, but profound. It may be complex, but meaningless. But it will be mine.

So here is my empty cup, fresh and clean out of the dishwasher, presented to you. Here I am, ready to learn, ready to fall, and ready to get back up again.

I don’t care if I’m wrong. I don’t care if what I say has already been written. I don’t care if you like it or not. These are my words and I will write them with purpose, with abandon, and without apology.