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Lady Garden Academy

Pussy power harvest

I always hoped I might write a manifesto. I do have a vague recollection of attempting to write one with my friend Karma and throwing it off the balcony of Napier Public Library in our teens. I can’t even remember the planned content but we were very enthusiastic and surely that counted for something? However over the last few years I have felt all the strands of my life, my practices and my teaching drawing together into a jumble that just could be, maybe, one day, the rumblings of a Ladyfesto?

It all started with a bit of rebellion in yoga. I got fed up with male focused practices that seemed to pretend that women were just men with boobs and that we should all be physically striving and meditating with strong determination. There seemed to be very little understanding of menstruation, pre and post natal yogic support and absolutely nothing useful for menopause. I found that if I softened, went a bit dreamy, listened to my own body and adapted my practice to suit my inner compass, that I actually felt more calm, flexible and able to respond to life challenges. I developed a gentler practice on all levels and then I also discovered Yoni Shakti. Hallelujah!

My gardening also changed. Why was I pulling out all the weeds to plant “proper vegetables”? The weeds were much more nutritious, required zero care and thrived in drought. They acted as mulch for my “proper veg” so that I could have the best of both worlds. The weeds provided biodiversity so that my garden was full of natural predators for problem pests. My weed smoothies became a staple and I stopped the war on weeds. I ate them instead. The System of Gardening seemed to be about conquering the land to create food when it was already providing abundance.

This control seemed to extend to women’s bodies. Women were suffering from hormonal health issues, invasive contraceptive methods, lousy and lazy prescribing from professionals who did not want to get to the bottom of any problems they experienced with their “lady bottoms”. Why did half the world try to pretend they did not have a menstrual cycle so that they would not embarrass the blokes? Why did we have to be “on” all the time, super productive, nice and smiley? Why couldn’t we organise our lives to work with our cycle and life stage instead of trying to be the same all the time. Why did we not practice preventative health care instead of waiting until we dropped in exhaustion or pain?

The Pussy Power Lady Garden Academy brings together these strands – by learning to love ourselves, listening to the wisdom of our bodies and the earth herself then we can have abundant health for everyone. This academy aims to help you find your health sovereignty as you listen to your life cycle, your energy levels and those of the seasons of the earth. This Spring the Academy opens for a year of learning to grow the weeds and herbs you need for your Lady Garden, how to harvest and turn then into your own medicine and how to do all this with nourishing yogic practices and with great respect and love for our Mother Earth. You can drift in and out of various modules and workshops that range from very practical to downright esoteric.

We start with the New Moon 8th September with planning our Garden for our Lady Garden. What are the herbs and plants that might help you? What space have you got at home? How much time can you dedicate to this? How do we sow seeds and care for our bebes? Which yogic practices help us to slow down and tune into the space of listening to the earth? Our yoga practice cultivates a partnership with our garden through Nidra and also Kundalini Yoga fires up our liver energy pathways as we look towards cultivating and eating our Spring Greens. If this sounds like it might be for you then book in here. You can stay tuned to whatever is coming next by checking the workshop and events pages.

Red Hot Bitches – Yoga for Peri/Menopause

At school you got the “period talk” but has anyone ever sat you down for some menopause prepping? Our society tends to cast a pretty negative light on this normal transition. You will hear loads of doom and gloom about flooding, vaginal atrophy, rage, insomnia and becoming invisible. While all of those may be part of your experience there is also something greater at work. You are in the midst of a massive hormonal transition that affects your brain, heart, reproductive system and your experience of who you thought you were. The rhythm of your cycle and your days goes off into a syncopated orbit and it is a bit like stepping off a path and sliding down a cliff. This might sound a tad dramatic but many women cope with this in the midst of career challenges, raising children, caring for aging parents, studying and trying to do all the things that we simply expect ourselves to be able to handle even on a good day.

The magic of this transition is that it finds ways to STOP, listen and cut away all that is not necessary while we have a major rewiring that would rival anything seen in The Matrix. Often instead of slowing to move at the pace our nervous system now requires, we try to push on Being Normal. This results in many of the ghastly symptoms listed above. If we listen to these symptoms, slow down and use some simple techniques then often we can minimise the symptoms and/or the need for hormonal intervention. Some women will need this intervention but it is always worth exploring all options along the way.

Red Hot Bitches is 5 session module of yoga therapy for this phase of life drawing upon my embodied experience and also the help I received along the way from: Yoni Shakti with Uma Dinsmore Tuli, herbal support from my study and also Deb Soule and Susun Weed and Wild Power’s Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. Each session addresses a phase of the awakening process and how yoga, herbs and self study can illuminate the experience. At each session a yoga nidra will be recorded that you can listen to whenever you need it.

Our module starts Thursday September 16th 7-8.30pm. In this current covid climate we can only gather in person during level 2. The module will be available via zoom if necessary or indeed for anyone who prefers this due to living elsewhere and/or the need for physical distancing. All welcome and bookings are here

First Light

This fire festival marks the first stirrings of Spring. The days may be sullen and grimly cold but there is a marked change to the length of the days, bringing hope that Spring is on the way. There are signs of buds swelling on fruit trees and the bird song changes. Some days are warm enough to stimulate grass and weed growth and all gardeners know that this means business – roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!

This is also a time of stirrings in the soul. Little seeds of ideas that might have stratified over the cold winter months are now responding to the increased light. It is opportune to be bold, fire up new intentions, set plans for the coming year and imagine your future. This year I am doing lunar intentions and solar goal setting to help me prioritise the things that matter ( such as making things, being outdoors and microadventures) I am also doing this in quite a literal way with actually sowing seeds for abundant greens to eat when Spring officially starts Sept 21st. I will be telling you when the best time to do this is and hopefully get you inspired to eat yer greens lads and lassies. What are your deepest wishes for this coming year? Think far and wide as well as humble and simple. 

This is when we traditionally start spring cleaning, purification and renewal. The slant of the sunlight enters into deeper parts of your house, revealing forgotten corners, spider webs and dust bunnies. This also reflects how many feel in their bodies and minds if it has been a harsh winter spent mainly indoors cultivating cabin fever. So while our present winter has been unusually mild, you can still harness this urge to fling everything open and look at it with fresh eyes. We shall be doing this with a gentle toning of our elimination organs, simple breathing and meditations and a bit of a declutter and clean of our surroundings on a week by week basis. I consider the 6 weeks between First Light and the Spring Equinox as an opportunity to spring clean my whole life. Just as the increased light shows up all the cobwebs in your room corners, it also beams in upon stale mindsets and jaded bodies. Awaken yourself slowly from hibernation.

If you feel like joining me I am offering a 6 week email programme to give you all the prompts and recipes. Hop over here if you want to spring into spring!

Keeping Yoga Safe for All

Yoni Shakti – the movement

Over the past year yoga teachers and students have been dismayed and disillusioned to discover that their once highly regarded master trainers/gurus and schools have been hiding a history of abuse and corruption. (Trigger warning!) This abuse ranges from shaming, lecherous behaviour, dodgy money management, cult control, physical and sexual violence. It is tragic that a practice that has the ultimate goal to liberate us from suffering should therefore be the cause of much suffering as well.

My journey through yoga has luckily been a largely happy one -with only a few experiences of shaming and coercive teaching from a bloke who wore only flesh coloured Y fronts and liked to mold students into position by draping himself over them. Ick! I only attended one class and wrote that school off my list. I had my creep/weirdy cult radar firmly switched on and thought I was immune to anything in that realm.

2020 dawned and suddenly local teachers I knew were discovering uncomfortable truths about their own trainers. I felt confident about my own school. I had a good relationship with all my teachers and trainers, they were people with impeccable ethics and were always down to earth. The moral code of being a teacher had been drummed into us and they practiced what they preached. In their defense they were part of the European yogic community and knew nothing of what was happening in America.

Then two weeks before starting another round of training (and also going into level 4 lockdown) a bombshell dropped with accounts of terrible abuse from the master teacher in America that had been going on for years. That was bad enough, but the fact that possibly an inner circle had known and chosen to keep quiet in order to protect their positions of authority made me question pretty much everything. Were the teachings valid? Who could I trust? Was I safe to be teaching others? Had I opened up my mind space and soul to some yucky spiritual entity?

Lockdown and my training week was a good opportunity to process, read accounts, join online forums to discuss and untangle what was valid from my training and what was potentially toxic. I knew that I had spent the last 20 years practicing and teaching this method and that the content was sound. It shifted stuff, it cleared my mind and ultimately I had never regarded this master teacher as a guru. I merely respected the teachings. I was so sad that he obviously didn’t follow his teachings himself! The fact that for many years I have lived far away from any Kundalini community means that I had left behind the aspects that did not feel applicable to life in a small rural town. I had already done my own edit and part of that was discovering Yoni Shakti – a yoga bible for women by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli. In this chunky tome lineages are questioned, practices are made women centric and readers are reminded that yoga is ultimately a quest for inner freedom

It was a huge relief to reconnect with Yoni Shakti – the movement to process the abuse across all yoga traditions and learn how to safeguard others from ever experiencing this. I have a folder with all the information to help support and protect survivors, to red flag the 13 warning signals and the 9 calls to action we can all take. If you have ever experienced any uncomfortable situations within a yoga class/training then please do not hesitate to reach out.

My peace of mind through all this has been my practice of tuning in and tuning out with mantra. Ong namo guru dev namo means I bow down to the divine teacher WITHIN. Sat Nam means I live from my deepest truth. When we tune into our own wisdom we keep our senses open to all , there is no place for giving our power away to others who wish us harm. Let’s use this wisdom to support and protect survivors of this abuse of power and bring back yoga as a tool for freedom.

Bursting bubbles and keeping the heart open

 

8f83df10-5ead-4e1d-9c85-39498a9dafa7Today our bubbles burst and we can venture out into the world while still maintaining a physical distance. Some are chomping at the bit to “get back to normal” while others have no normal to get back to. If you have had the luxury of not wondering how to pay your rent or where your next meal is coming from over these last 6 weeks or so then you have probably had some wake up call. How do you really want to live your life, make your living, spend your time and money and who do you want to be with? Have you been able to be with yourself? Wouldn’t it be great to integrate any insights into your new and wider world, rather than rushing back onto the treadmill?

From the woowoo perspective the planets are asking us to do just that with Saturn, Venus and Jupiter all going retrograde this week. Just as Aunty Cindy says it is ok to get back into the thick of it the heavens are saying “hang on, just pause a bit longer”. Listen to your insights from lockdown and when ready bring your treasures back to share with others. We have a 6 week window of Venus in retrograde in which to dwell in the heart and listen deeply. Kundalini yogis love a good 40 day practice and so I am starting mine today with three of my favourites from Guru Rattana’s excellent book “Transition to a heart centred world.” Auntie Cindy has also told us to stay spaced out so I have included a lot of breath of fire to really bring us into the neutral mind!

“Transition to a heart centred world” is available as an ebook. I really recommend buying any of her books. For details on my full 40 day practice look in her book for these: Breath meditation to strengthen the mind and the immune system. The Kriya is Heart connection and the meditation is Praan Adhaar Kriya.

Here I am sharing the instructions for Heart Connection. This is a set I have previously done as a 40 day kriya while living in a new country with a lot of challenging racial disharmony. It helped me to acknowledge the inequality, the sadness I felt, and also to have the courage to speak up in my workplace and community. I hope it helps you too. Any Kundalini yoga set with a lot of navel centre work will help to break down the barriers to the heart centre.

Heart Connection

Tune in with Ong namo guru dev namo x 3

Do our usual warmups and include some low slow lunges to warm up your hip flexors. Take any rest you need throughout the kriya and observe your bodily sensations in rest times.

One – bring your right hand into surya mudra ( thumb to ring finger) and your left hand into buddhi mudra (thumb touching the little finger). Lift both arms so that the elbows are at held up at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. (Please note photo above for position of arms but use the correct mudra!) Start a powerful breath of fire through the mouth, pumping from the navel point so that your cheeks billow in and out like Dizzy Gillespie for 3 and half minutes. To end inhale deeply, hold the breath for 30 seconds and exhale. Repeat this ending twice more.

Two – place both hands over the heart centre and focus your eyes on the tip of the nose with almost closed eyelids. Meditate and feel the goodness of the heart, the oneness and connection with the universe under your hands. 5 mins and 15 seconds.

Three – sitting on your bottom, pull your knees in close to your chest and lock them tightly with your arms. Now try to jump up and down so that your bottom lifts off the floor for 1.5 mins. Good luck with that. I find it helps to imagine I am on a moon hopper.

Four – Lie on your back and extend your arms and legs up to 90 degrees. The toes are pointed and the palms of the hands face one another. Begin a heavy breath of fire to burn out all toxins. This exercise balances the meridians. 3 mins and 15 seconds.

Five – rest in child pose with arms draped behind you. Sleep for 6 minutes

Six – same position as number four but now you move your arms and legs back and forth like a little mechanical dog and with breath of fire for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Seven – seated (or lying if needed) place your hands on your heart and meditate or chant or sing for up to 14 mins. (I love “You are the light in my heart” by Sada Sat Kaur)

Rest for 5 mins. Tune out with Sat Nam x3

As you go about your day observe your interactions with others and your inner dialogue. Do you listen to your heart or your head?