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Let our feet bless the earth

yoga massage reflexology at Odette Rowe Wairarapa yoga workshop

At Womad recently a band invited us all to dance, reminding us that moving our feet was a way of blessing the earth. This comment came at a very poignant moment when all in NZ felt that the rug had been pulled out from beneath our feet. A gentle reminder to move, to feel the stability of the ground was a loving way to feel “earthed” again.

The Autumn Equinox is when I reboot my Breathwalking practice which slackens off during the heat of summer and the toils of the harvest season. The cooler air and the seasonal focus upon the lungs and large intestines make this a good time to get a walking habit established before the chill of Winter arrives.  Breathwalking is part of the Kundalini Yoga tradition and it combines breath segmentation, mindful movement and meditation. Plus you get fit at the same time!

Breath segmentation is a valuable tool to learn as the diverse breathing patterns alter the way the brain functions. The different muscles and nerves you use to chop and change your breath alert your glands to work better and tone your immune system. It also helps the nervous system to cope better when under stress.  Going for a walk helps to alleviate stress, going for a Breathwalk takes this to a whole new level. As I set off each day I think of each step as a blessing for the earth beneath me.

This week our Monday Meditation class on April 1st at 5.30pm is a sampler to testdrive this method. We will meet at the Snug as usual for foot awakeners and then stride out rain, hail or shine. Bring some shoes that are comfy for you to walk in, wet weather gear if needed or a warm layer if it feels cool. Our meditation specifically focuses on anxiety so bring any friends or family who need help in this regard. Please book in to bagsie your spot and don’t be late as we might stride off without you! You might like to bring a bag to pick up any rubbish as we go.

Averting impending seasonal doom

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I love Autumn – the colours, the end of the harvest, the stacking of firewood and the fossicking for unfinished knitting projects that just might make it off the needles and onto my back this year. However I know it is not for everyone and I see this as part of our addiction and craving for happiness and sunshine alongside a total aversion to darkness and introspection. Many years ago I recognised this aversion in myself and decided to face it head on.

As usual the teacher for this was my own body – my menstrual cycle. The Autumn season AKA the pre-menstrual phase was my opportunity to s l o w down, listen to the truth serum that seemed to be pulsing through my veins and breath out all the overwhelming emotions. People generally liked me in Spring (pre ovulation) and Summer (ovulation) perhaps less so in Autumn and I think everyone would rather I took off to Siberia in Winter (menstruation). The magic was that once I gave myself the needed rest and time alone in Winter, my Autumn became this magical colourful place. Like all the changing leaves on the trees, I could see the richness and texture in my life. There was something to be gained in saying no, in stepping back and letting that truth serum show me the light.

What I saw was that our modern society celebrates busyness, doing, success, youth and productivity. Just being average, middle aged, resting, taking your foot off the accelerator and in fact just being were frowned upon. I think that both Autumn the season and our Inner Autumn the pre-menstrual phase are the perfect times to address this balance and find what needs to be adjusted to feel more authentic.

If you struggle with being and doing, with digestive or breathing issues (our ability to assimilate our experiences) are curious about finding a way to link your breath with walking, or perhaps you fancy a bit of restorative yoga – then join me for the Autumn Equinox on March 24th. This is a 4 hour session to find balance, enjoy some yoga and craft a fire cider to blast your socks off.  I’m heading off for a few days rest so email me to enrol or ask any questions. I will get back to you when I am back in range.

The Birth of Pussy Power

yoni mudra

Years ago my Argentinian flatmate was trying to set me up with her friend. I explained to her that I thought he was kind, generous, intelligent and attractive but I was not attracted to him. “No worries”, she said. “I will just tell him that your pussy says no”. I screeched “NOOOOOO, don’t say that, you can’t say that!” While I was horrified at her rather forthright language it would have been much kinder to the persistent suitor and good for me to learn to listen to my ….erm lady bits.

This conversation with Carlita sowed a very tiny seed that grew over the years. Why was it ok to listen to my brain or my heart but not my womb/yoni/pussy and even more to openly talk about this?

The truth is that our sexuality shapes us wherever you are along the spectrum ranging from lemon sucking prudish denial through to flamboyant polyamorist pollinator. When we don’t listen to this sacred part of ourselves, it starts to talk loudly through physical language such as period pain, PMS, UTI’s, recurrent thrush, incontinence, sexual dysfunction/low libido and depression. Then we have to listen because we can’t deny the pain. However most of us miss even this opportunity of connection as we merely medicate or decide we mustn’t grumble and simply put up with it.

On the physical, mental and spiritual plane our pelvic floors are our foundation for our being. This is our root chakra and the magical collection of muscles that hold in all our abdominal organs. All women ( and men!) over the age of 40 regardless of having birthed or gestated a baby need to care for their pelvic floors. Our muscles are like old knicker elastic, with time it tends to lose its stretchiness! Thankfully unlike old knicker elastic we can nearly always do something about rejuvenating that flexibility again. Care for the pelvic floor is the foundation of all these classes, learning what we need to do if these muscles need to actually relax or tone.

Our sexual relationships (like all relationships) are actually playing out our relationship with ourselves. Sadly most of us have never had a wise teacher/parent who can guide us through how to foster this relationship with ourselves. Just as we often don’t learn how to listen to our emotions, be authentic or ask for support, we also don’t learn how to listen to our body or navigate our sexuality. Instead this is shaped by the rules of our family or society, often shaming and blaming, how things are portrayed in the media, movies and perhaps worst of all, pornography. Pussy Power classes open the space to connect with our true selves. Through simple breathing, gentle postures and techniques to practice at home we can rekindle who we are and let go of all the social conditioning. You might be surprised to discover your pussy pulse and the true source of your intuition!

We will also be learning about our wondrous anatomy which most women (and men!) have absolutely no idea about. Women’s bodies are actually built for pleasure and each woman has her unique neural wiring. Discovering your wiring means that you can then ask for what you need. Most of us are pretty inept in both knowing what we want and then being able to ask. This wiring is about so much more than sex. It is the source of our joy, confidence and feeling comfortable in our own body. The vagina is linked to the brain through this neural wiring with a feedback loop. This is why being treated like a Queen makes us purr. This is also why anything from a snapping comment, a sexist remark, body shaming through to sexual assault actually shuts down the loop on some level. To understand this and then take a stand is to shine forth in your pussy power. We all know the depressing statistics about sexual abuse and rape. To realise that this actually changes brain chemistry, depressing and suppressing women means that we all must do our bit to change this scourge in our society.

As a homeopath I have listened to countless stories of this sadness, I’ve witnessed birth trauma when attending hospital births and as a yoga teacher I observe the way women move with their pelvises. I have reflected upon my own health, “hystery” and history. Quite frankly I am so very, very tired of women not being cherished and respected. I want you to let go of the shackles of your past and social conditioning and be simply liberated. Yoga is not about being super flexible or even enlightened – the ultimate goal is the liberation from your suffering. (Suffering in yogic terms is to not live in connection with yourself or others holistically) For most women this suffering stems from not listening to this sacred space. Step into your Pussy Power and be free!

This class is about celebrating as well as alleviating suffering. I believe that life is one very long opportunity to keep learning and you can teach an old pussy new tricks. So even if you have no physical symptoms or emotional hang ups then you can still open up yourself to deeper and joyous experiences.

The weekly class starts Wednesday February 13th 7pm in the Snug ( Valentines day eve, have a hot date with yourself!) and you can join in at any time this year. (Please book yourself in each week, as space is limited). There will be ongoing workshops throughout the year, covering hormone issues for every stage of life, wildcrafting herbs for juicy ladies and the Pelvic Balance workshop will be repeated at regular intervals for newbies or as a refresher. FREE Red Tent gatherings are held around the time of each New Moon. I will also be hosting a fabulous Sex Ed for Women Workshop with the divine Kathy Bartlett. All classes are not at all kooky or kinky and we all stay fully clothed! (Just in case you were wondering) This class is open to anyone who identifies as a woman.

Embrace the Lunar Eclipse

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Happy Full Moon on January 21st and even better it is a lunar eclipse. Sadly we won’t see it here in NZ due to the timing at 6.12pm but we can still feel it. This eclipse season has been all about creating strong foundations, learning to trust in times of change and embracing self care.

I have been doing a favourite meditation to embrace this season and will continue to do it daily until next new moon. It helps to find your connection with the earth, build strength in your pelvic floor muscles and find peace in breath suspension. It is officially called “Meditation for a stable body” or sometimes “Meditation for the Pranic Body”. I just do it when I have living in my head too much and need to get back to earth.

Sit in a position that lets you keep a straight spine. Make fists with both hands, with the thumbs sticking up as if you are going to hitch a lift. The right hand is level with the heart centre and the left hand is level with your navel centre. The eyes are almost closed and focused at the third eye centre. Tuck your chin back gently. Inhale sharply and deeply and exhale completely with gusto. Hold the breath out and rhythmically draw up your pelvic floor muscles up to 26 times. Only do this for as long as it feels comfortable to hold the breath out, or for your pelvic floor muscles. As you are holding the breath visualize the energy moving from the base of your spine all the way up to the crown of your head. Repeat this for 3 mins and up to 11 mins if you are super keen.

If you live locally and want to grow moonflowers then let me know and I shall save you some seed. They magically open as the moon rises, smell delicious and each flower only lasts for one night. The perfect reminder to seize the day (or night in this case).

 

About Odette

photo of Odette Rowe in yoga pose- Sat Nam

Kia Ora, I’m Odette Rowe. I’m a Kundalini, perinatal and children’s yoga teacher and a qualified homeopath. For the past 18 years I have taught yoga in the UK, Australia and New Zealand in studios, natural health clinics,  workplaces and artist’s squats.

Now I bring you the Yoga Snug – cosy little classes and workshops in homes, community spaces and studios dotted around the Wairarapa. I’m based in Carterton, and hold classes in two venues there (including my own snug) and also in Featherston and Martinborough.

I have not the slightest interest in tricky poses in spandex. I am instead passionate about people discovering enjoyment and ease as they move their body without pain or anxiety. I love witnessing people cherishing themselves, just as they are so they can be healthy, happy and live out their life purpose.

My aim is to encourage people to see that all their actions and interactions with others has a ripple effect. Changing the world ultimately starts with the dialogue you have with yourself on a daily basis and this quiet revolution starts on your meditation cushion. Come along to a class to stretch and unwind but you might also leave with some seeds or herbal tea.