Most of us consider medicine to be found in bottles and packets in our bathroom cabinets or perhaps in our pantries and spice racks. If we want to find out more about these medicines we consult Google God, look up books or ask our health practitioner. We rely upon the realm of the intellect to gather information. Most of us would also expect that we had to ingest our medicine for us to receive any benefit.
However in Pussy Power Lady Garden Academy we are adding another approach to learning about our plant friends. Yes we learn with our heads but we shall also learn with our hearts, and throughout this year we shall be gathering to take part in plant initiations. In this space we realise that our medicine is all around us, very possibly right under feet and that we can learn to access this medicine through intuition and intellect. We may also discover that simply to “be” with our ally is all the medicine we need, there is no need to “take”.
A plant initiation is like going back into that childlike space of wonder. (Adults simply name a plant and rattle through how it might potentially be useful to them.) In our space of wonderment we sit with the plant, explore the shapes, smells and tastes if edible and acknowledge the change of appearance through it’s life cycle. We notice where it likes to grow and who it likes to grow alongside with and how it feels to hang out with this plant. During the initiation we practice yoga nidra to deeply relax and awaken out heart space to feel more open to listening on an intuitive level. We imbibe an elixir of the plant several times throughout the ceremony and reflect on how we feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are dating our new plant friend and listening to our intuition! Some like to draw/paint, write songs, dance, embroider or create recipes. Others simply like to lie still, be dreamy and allow their awareness to open.
The initiation lasts beyond the actual gathering. For weeks afterwards you start to notice your plant ally is all around you, whether in nature, your garden or simply in images. Slowly a relationship builds and you might gain insight into how this plant would like to help YOU or others in your circle. Each participant takes a wee bottle of plant essence home to continue their journey.
We start this Spring Equinox with the most humble and tenacious of all plant allies – the Dandelion. She can pop up in between cracks in concrete landscapes, resurrect like a zombie despite round-up poisonings and blow her seeds all across the world. She is a generous giver and is here to shine her golden light, bedazzling your eyes so you can appreciate that medicine can be found simply everywhere.
Come join us on Wednesday September 22nd 7-8.30pm for an evening of wonder, fun and dreaming. Please bring any tools that are your creative allies such as favourite pencils, musical instruments, embroidery threads etc. There will be paper, pencils and crayons for everyone to share. Details are here and booking is here
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.
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
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!
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.