The unseen sexual twist of this spiritual tale…

I have often searched in the words, stories, experiences of others, teachers & friends, for comfort on this spiritual path. I was told during my first yoga teacher training that we each are unique and follow our own path. I was also told that the most important part of this process is to go within and listen to your own heart, to your inner guru, and that is the best guide in the darkness of the spiritual Unknown. I understood these words at the time. And I repeated them often to students, fellow teachers and friends. But until this trip away, this trip alone, this trip into myself, I didn’t quite understand or feel the whole truth in these words.

Yoga began for me much like it does for others – in the gym. Wanting a flatter stomach, less flabby bingo wings and a certified nap after exercising. And that’s what I got! And that can be as far as some people go with yoga in this life. And that’s good. It’s the first step on a healing journey to your heart (even if you don’t accept that, want that or feel that. It just is. Sorry!)

It has also been said to me that the best teachers teach what they heal within themselves, & they teach the people from where they came from. So for the last 3 years I have been motivated to teach Hatha yoga to help busy, breaking Western people, with stressful lives, careers, relationships, social engagements and toxic eating and environments, learn how to de-stress. To learn how to slow down. To learn how to breathe. I have also connected with women by and through teaching pregnancy yoga. And through all of these practices I developed more awareness and understanding of myself, as a teacher and as a woman. I am empowered by the wonder of a what a woman’s body can do, what MY body can do. I have snuggled babies and helped new mothers and witnessed the love, that unconditional love between them, that continued to melt the defensive shackles over my heart.

I began to get braver as I built community. I set up a studio, I formed alliances and I connected with women and men alike. And again, through this yoga, this union, I grew. I opened up to more and shared the power I felt of mantra, of chanting, of Bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotional love) in kīrtans (devotional singing circles). I turned my fear of embarrassing myself into love and free expression. And the love within grew.

But this was all helping to clear the first layer of defence. The layer of trauma from my corporate compromise and illness. It was necessary to help me re-start my life and start off on this spiritual path.

Yogic practices began to take me into the pain and trauma of my childhood and into ancestral healing, feeling & acknowledging that our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents, etc were only human, and could only do the best they could with the tools they had been provided with by their ancestors before them, and as a result of the karmas, and traumas they personally experienced in their body and soul. For me, 2015 was about forgiving the men in my life who had hurt me. 2017 was all about the women. It transpires that this trip has always been about discovering and healing the Great Feminine as I’ve followed the breadcrumbs of the Divine Mother’s trail. But I had no appreciation of the depth or wildness of this path when I left the UK.

They say the path to take is obvious but I remain unclear or unconfident in my ideas. I have stumbled so many times on this path, I have ignored my intuition, and I have felt isolated, alone and confused – for years! So I still doubt that I know best. My mind still undermines the burgeoning connection I have now with my heart. I have done two different yoga teacher trainings since I’ve been away and I was hopeful, desperate at times, that they would lead to an obvious role for me, back home, or anywhere! But recently as I’ve sat in the practices I love – Hatha, and Bhakti, I realised I was becoming less sure of what my next step is, of what my offering is. And again, in my recent śakti awakening women’s circle experience, I could see myself leading and offering that too, but this time, I just sat in the experience rather than wondering if it would lead to my next job title.

However, there is one thing I know for sure, I have always been a gobby feminist, whatever role I was performing so far this life. Recently, I remembered that in October 2015 my pregnancy yoga teacher pointed out that I had remarked in class that my purpose was to ‘serve women’. And I’d said this sincerely to the group but without giving myself the benefit of truly listening to myself, to my heart! I have always mothered my friends, cared for and cooked for them, and loved listening and offering advice to those who seek it from me. And my call to music, through my harmonium, is a new deep connection to the unconditional loving feminine energy.

Singing Kīrtan in India was the first time I truly paid attention to the different feelings in my heart and noticed in myself and in others that nothing felt more right to me and more connected than when I sang songs to the Divine Mother. I love the other Bhakti boys – Krishna, Śiva and Ganesa but my heart belonged to Ma. From that connection, I knew I wanted to explore the powers of the Tantrik Goddesses and delve deeper into the Bhakti yoga of love and Tantra, and it didn’t take long until I was guided to the playful sexual energy of the vibrant Goddess Lalitā. These goddesses, that I have begun to talk of like friends, are used as ways to understand and connect to the energy they depict. I do not literally dance with Lalitā but her sexual energy, the energy of pleasure, has begun moving through me when I sing to her and when I chant her name. This is known in the yoga world as a kundalini experience and it happens when the energy of the subtle energy body begins to rise up, up to connection with the Divine. And it is not easy for me to process that this is happening to me. Because I have never felt or contained this level of energy in my body before.

You see yoga will dig through the dirt, the layers of crap, to get to the root of your block, to the core of your defence to receiving the love of the Universe. And once you begin to move energy, once you commit to a disciplined practice of moving energy (which is what yoga asana, pranayama and meditation are all for), it will move where it needs to go. And you cannot control it. The reason I’m sharing this, the reason I’m taking so long to get to the point is because my spiritual path has reached a crux point. It’s reached its climax, unlike me.

Many of you may have heard of Tantra. It has been derided now as ‘sex yoga’. That may be, in part, because in the West, and probably the whole World, sex is no longer considered sacred or spiritual. Tantra, as a teaching, is about the total union of masculine and feminine energy in spiritual sexual connection to the Divine. As in Hatha yoga, we do not deny the needs of the body, of the human experience, but rather embrace the power within and work with the body, & cultivate sexual energy for spiritual connection. The rising of kundalini energy is the rising of sexual energy. The orgasm is the ultimate surrender. The ultimate devotion. The ultimate expression of love. And kundalini leads to spiritual orgasm.

But my story of not ‘being good enough’ has many layers of deep denial. And the main most frustrating and upsetting effect on my life so far has been my inability to have a ‘proper’ orgasm. To doubt my connection to my own body, and to believe I have been kept out in the cold because I don’t deserve the love and pleasure other people presumably access all the time (do you?!) I’ve also been blocked by sexual trauma in my female ancestral line, and by my own unhealthy, but consensual experiences. And it’s only now that I’ve begun to acknowledge and feel within me the repressed anger and pain at sexual violence, repression and slavery of women, of women I know and love, but also of my sisters, of the women of this World.

There came a point in my time away when I realised I was going to have to finally confront this issue, for myself, but also to talk about it, share it and, perhaps one day teach about this! Because it is my healing path, and because I now understand that sexual and spiritual release are the same thing. And I was mortified! Not only do my mother and father read my blogs, but so do some ex-lovers, my best friends, and detractors. And yoga, my great saviour yoga!, was leading me to this point, of total, unhindered honesty and vulnerability about sexual pleasure, or the lack of it. And I’m British. We DON’T talk about sex!!!!

But this is the power of the Great Feminine and my story is part of the repression of female power, expression, & pleasure as a result of the patriarchy. It’s also because of poor choices I made as a young woman exploring her body and her urges, and saying yes when I really meant no. No, I just want love. I’m not ready for this. But my mind, my desire for social inclusion, my lust and reckless abandon, and my lack of love for myself motivated my active decisions. I was, and have been complicit in all the unsatisfying sexual encounters I have had. But there have been some good ones too.

I have also held this misunderstanding that in sexual negotiation, there’s a trade off sometimes – that you keep your man happy and that’s our obligation as the female in the relationship. And I’m not alone in somehow along the way inheriting that belief. I watched this TED talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/peggy_orenstein_what_young_women_believe_about_their_own_sexual_pleasure/up-next) which surveyed young women in the US who also felt and acted on this basis. As a result, I have suffered from a huge disconnect from my own sexual power, yearning and expression and so it seems have many other women and younger women. And this is why, this is WHY, I have finally decided I have to share my secret. And I have decided not to believe this is shameful, or that there’s something wrong with me but to instead embrace my vulnerability and belief in the strength of community. To trust you, dear Reader, to hold space for me as I heal and as I continue to test my theory that the power of honesty opens up cracks of light into conversations that we should be having together, mums and daughters, sisters, friends, fathers and sons, brothers – because no one benefits when we humans are unable to understand ourselves, our bodies, & our needs. It’s no wonder really that we live in an unequal society and what feels sometimes like a broken World.

I once worked in the Legal World which is a microcosm of the patriarchy. It is one of the oldest boys clubs. During my 9 years there, it felt to me that in order to be a powerful woman you have to behave like a man. Just think of Margaret Thatcher, our first female Prime Minister, the original ball-breaker. Be ruthless, be loud, take action. Don’t feel, certainly don’t cry and don’t consider taking too much time off if you have babies. Get back on the emails after that last push out, and be PROUD of that! Since leaving that world, and being nuzzled in the yoga world, I have begun to understand and appreciate the differences between masculine and feminine energy, strength and power. BOTH are needed. BOTH are felt and expressed differently, and that they also appear in men and women to different degrees of manifestation – to coin patronising patriarchal language from my culture – some women are more like ‘tom-boys’ and some men are more like ‘sissies’.

From sitting in and sharing my vulnerability and sensitivity, I have discovered strength in that honesty and I have provided others with the strength to acknowledge their pain, suffering or unhappiness. And that’s the start of effecting change. Just becoming aware of yourself, of your heart, of your suffering, of whether you are really compromising your truth to fit in the box that the patriarchy crafted for us all, men or women. Because this denial of feminine energy limits and punishes men too. Male colleagues were even less likely to show, & admit emotion and sensitivity (which is a human energetic process) and potentially be even more judged if they wanted to take time off to care for their newborn, rather than sweat long hours at the coal face with the other Real Men.

In order for me to progress further on my spiritual path, I have had to face the good, bad and ugly sides of me. To truly begin to acknowledge and feel the repression of myself, of my denial of the right to feel and receive pleasure. And realise that this has suffocated my self esteem, strength and light so that I’ve never truly stepped into all that I am as a Woman. That I do not trust men, I do not trust God and I do not yet trust myself to relinquish control and let the waves of love, of ecstasy take me over, whether that be in bed with a man, or in bed with my māla (prayer beads in case you thought this was some kind of vibrational device).

And so I continue to share this sexual truth, despite the shame colouring my cheeks and the fear swirling in my guts. Why? Because for the last few months I’ve been testing the waters with my truth, telling the odd yogini friend my suspicions that I have unexplored sexual territory. And many of them, single or married, also shared the same sexual suspicion. I sat in the circle of 6 women last week and introduced myself AND my suspicions straight off the bat. And do you know what? Other women felt the same as me too. So we could then discuss it. Release this secret into the ether and know we were not alone. And begin to share ideas on how to embrace this energy, how to improve upon our own individual experiences of feminine sexual energy and how to raise that for the benefit of the collective consciousness.

So this is why I’m facing my fear and talking about what feels like my biggest taboo. And this was not what I foresaw happening when I first stepped on to a yoga mat! I would have legged it had I known then what would unravel with each downward dog, and each OM. And I’m only beginning to heal this fear. I have circled it, I have begun to listen to it, to feel it and to understand why I have this blockage within me and begun to cultivate the belief that I do not have to be bound by it. God is showing me my body can handle her love, her energy, when I am ready to surrender to it. I am staring right at my fear, I see the game I am playing. And I have begun to scream and release generations of pain. I am doing the practices that keep my heart open, and I am praying to the Divine to help me continue to surrender this huge block both on my sexual path and spiritual path – because they are the same thing. For me. On this unique path of mine!

I believe I will overcome this block. I am ready to believe in more for myself and for us all. I believe there will be a re-balancing of feminine values and energy because if it can happen within me, it can happen in my World too. I believe that by sharing this secret, I will help diminish the stigma around sex and women seeking and demanding their right to pleasure too. That one by one, day by day, women will rise in confidence, in their power, in their primal sexual energy and begin to take their place more fully in this World, with men, alongside men and for men too. I am not an angry feminist. I do not blame men for my shackles. They are my shackles to break along this path, to learn from, and to share so that my sisters can break theirs too. We need to share the truth of our repression. That we do not claim or stand in our full power in the patriarchy and we need to acknowledge that this repression affects us all – men and women and that it also affects our daughters, sisters, friends and lovers on such a micro but devastatingly primal level as what happens between the sheets.

In faith in love, I embrace another fear of mine, and I release myself by sharing it with you. And I pray to our Mother to be released further into love.

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The evolving beat of my heart

A friend told me I should blog about my understanding of the love stuff. As I start to write this I must admit I feel more confused about what I know and don’t know than ever before. You see, I am in love with my best friend and I have been for a long time. Depressingly, I have kept myself trapped in this unrequited saga for over a year despite trying for the last 6 months to find some distance and move on.

This is not my first foray into the dizzying desperation of unrequited love. At 13, I fell in love with my kid neighbour and pretty much made all our parties miserable as I pined for him and dreamt of our love from across the room, as he quite rightly, tried to ignore me. I would mope to the best of Celine Dion (it was the 90s) and feel the agony of my tender little heart beating unloved. Or so I thought.

I have always been sentimental. Romantic. Dramatic. Clearly. But what I have also been is miseducated in the meaning of love. Miseducated by the early separation and divorce of my biological parents, miseducated by my biological Father not being in my life consistently, miseducated by the crud on TV, miseducated by Disney (my Prince will come) and miseducated by society – by adverts, friends, enemies, boys, naivety and our consumerist & celebrity culture.

According to my yogic understanding, I have also been operating under karmic patterns – with tendencies towards the dramatic & doomed aspects of love relationships (Mars energy), and to be distracted or drawn to tempestuous love affairs and inevitably burned (the fire of the Sun and that pesky Mars combined), and born to a family with the karmic pattern of divorce and an absent father due to my past life karma. My soul chose the family it did in order to deal with these lessons for my soul evolution in this life. Complicated hey?

In order to understand love, I believe you need to understand why we are here. We are here to evolve, as a species but also as spiritual souls. According to Western and Eastern science, we are all energy, radiating at different frequencies, made up of cells and atoms which are magnetically drawn together and fuse in different forms of matter – rock, cow, human, doughnut. (May not have found that last one in my yoga resources..)

So, what is love? Love is the energy of attraction. It is the pervasive energy within us all, it is the heart, the life energy, of everything. It brings us together in relationship and in community. We were created from love and we will return to love when we reach spiritual enlightenment. But my goodness we have a long way to go before then!

Relationship love is something we can experience in this gift of being human. It is not just partners, but includes the relationships we have, sustain and often destroy with our parents, children, and other relatives as well as our partners. Human relationships make us feel accountable to someone else – to believe (wrongly) that we are either responsible for someone else’s happiness, and/ or that someone else is responsible for ours. We place conditions on the love we provide, almost automatically, when we enter into these relationships. To be human and alive means you have experienced relationship love on some level. You were born to a mother, who may or may not have provided you with unconditional love, but in order to have become an adult someone was care-giving to keep you alive until you became self sufficient. That, even in a limited form, is still an expression of love. And that relationship came with expectation, pain, and lessons to learn.

I have experienced love, lust, unrequited love and spiritual love. I have felt in love with the world, I have felt a warmth in my chest, a contentment in my heart on a regular and almost daily basis for a while now due to yoga, and the practices I do. I have fallen in love with life and with love (or God or Universal energy). But it doesn’t mean I don’t long for a Partner and children. It doesn’t stop me wanting those human experiences of love that I see around me and yet feel beyond me. But perhaps that’s because I keep myself preoccupied with someone who doesn’t want to be in a partner relationship with me? Yoga is about taking responsibility for your soul evolution and that is what I am trying to muddle through.

We all can, and I, for sure, get snared up by ‘rejection’. When a relationship has failed, or a guy hasn’t asked for a second date, or just wants to be friends, I feel rejected, unwanted, unloved and unworthy. It compounds the limiting belief I have that I am not good enough. I wasn’t good enough as a child because if I had been, well then, why did my Dad leave and hurt me? If I am good enough now, why am I still single at 35 (nb: clock ticking childbearing age)? If I am enough now, why doesn’t my best friend, who values me, want more?
Can you see how the cycle goes? And we believe these stories. And we fuel them by attracting relationships (partner, personal, professional) that prove our limiting belief to be true, time and time again. We react in the same way, say and do the same things, and brace ourselves for the next round of disappointment. Because that’s all we know, and sadly, it’s how we feel safe – safe in our known victim status that we are not enough! I have believed my story for the last 34 years and I’m still now trying to excavate the root of this nasty limiting belief that permeates my life and keeps me from the one thing I truly wish to feel – LOVE.

When someone walks away from you, ends a relationship with you, or starts one with someone else, it isn’t because you are not worthy of love. It is because that person wasn’t for you at all or at that time. And that attachment you have acts as a block to the magnetic pull of love that underpins the Universe. By remaining attached to someone, you are, in fact, telling the Universe that you think you know best. You know what you need and what life should look like. And you don’t want to evolve, have faith, have patience and trust in the underpinning energy of love that is your birthright, that is your true nature. In addition to that, I am experiencing that developing trust in love involves acceptance that love will undoubtedly be offered to you, just perhaps in another form than relationship love.

Every break up, every disappointment, every challenge is a lesson in love and soul evolution – it’s an opportunity to firstly, eat vast quantities of pizza and ice cream, but after that, it’s more importantly, an opportunity to explore your own needs and feelings and to be honest about whether the relationship was/is really serving your highest good. Or are you holding on, settling, refusing to move on because of fear, mistrust or some other self denying belief.

On reflecting on my patchy path through relationship love, I can see that each knock helped to turn me towards Yoga and God. I wouldn’t have got to where I am today without those painful heartbreaking unrequited experiences. I was born to an absent father so I would learn how to evolve past dependency on men, on others, for love and validation. Because of the pain, I have become me, I have evolved as a result of every knock and dissatisfying relationship experience I have had with men, including male bosses. And if I am honest with myself, had my best friend wanted more from me before I left the UK, I would have prioritised that relationship love and not had this time away for myself which has given me the gift of falling in love with God, and knowing that there is more than one way to seek, feel and share love. And for that I can say, sincerely, I am grateful. I am blessed. Despite my heart still wanting more with him.

The shackles of my miseducation are being rattled. And perhaps I can shake yours too. There is more, so much more to experience in this life than just relationship love. I have felt it. Love is the connection to the source of energy within us and around us – spiritual love, and spiritual connection. And on occasion, I have felt the energy of love pouring into me and out of me, exposed, raw, and beautiful. I have felt soft love, like a mothers cuddle, as well as the inklings of spiritual ecstasy. And I have also closed back up to that love due to that pesky limited belief and the terrifying power of actually FEELING LOVE. And learning that I have to trust it, because as someone who has crafted the story that I have been denied love for 35 years, it is the scariest thing to embrace.

Spiritual love is truly the only form of unconditional love. Because in relationship love, we have expectations. Eg – I love my boyfriend but I have an expectation he will marry me if he truly loved me. And even the unconditional love of parent and child can hurt us – when a Father cannot give the love a child needs due to his own limitations and pain, when a child doesn’t love us in the way we want to be loved, or grows up and moves away, or chooses to join the circus and not obtain a doctorate (I personally would prefer the circus for my imagined kid!). I’m not suggesting the love doesn’t exist and remain there but it causes us pain within that relationship due to our expectation of how that love should be shown and felt. Because we expected that human relationship to make us happy. Whereas the only pain in spiritual love is realising when you’re not connected to it, and that it was always there and that you, YOU, were the one hiding from it THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s what I have felt anyway. And I am still hiding and playing kiss chase with God!

We have expectations or hopes of our fellow humans, even if we are not in relationship love with them. I love my best friend. But that doesn’t entitle me to have more from him than he is willing or able to give me. And it is my responsibility if I interpret that as rejection, and then feed it into my story about not being ‘good enough’. It’s important to feel all the feelings of love – the pain and the joy as that is how we evolve. And through the pain of a recent triggering event with him, I have realised I have the choice instead, to be grateful for his role in my life, in showing me that a man exists who shares my values, dreams and yoga love and laughs. A kind, sexy, spiritual man who enjoys my company, who supports my dreams and rambles. But it is ME who has interpreted that as meaning he’s the only man who can do that, the only man who is made for me. And with that limiting belief I reveal to the Universe that I still do not trust that I am being loved and guided, that I still do not believe I truly deserve love, and that I do not fully appreciate the love I have experienced elsewhere, and accept that everything is happening as it should for my soul evolution.

Because that again, is why we are here. It’s not to obtain a white wedding dress, have a party and a wedding album to signify love (not that they aren’t valuable parts of human life that I still want). It’s not necessarily to have children either. Women are here to birth and create but that can be other things than babies such as art, business and conscious community. It has often felt to me that there’s one ‘normal’ represented way to love and to live life and that resulting drive for a husband and children has caused me a lot of heartache and disappointment as I still sit without those things.

But if I lean into the love that is available to me, if I trust that love comes in many forms, then I feel content. I feel loved. I can accept that my best friend can’t offer me more, and I can love him still, without expectation (this is a work in progress folks). He has held space for me whilst I wrangle with my emotions, and he continues to respect my feelings and my need for space. His love for me is helping to set me free. And perhaps this is the best thing for my soul evolution. Perhaps that is the reason I met him and loved him. Not so we can have sex and babies but so I can finally compare my experiences of love, sit with the brutal truth that my love for him carries expectations, and to learn, painfully, to step through that and let the idea of relationship love with him go. It would be easier if he was a bit of a tw&t! But there in itself is growth and love. Despite the pain I feel for now, I also feel blessed to have him as my best friend.

Love isn’t a pretty pink picnic. It’s the messy glue and matter of the Universe, of our soul, of each of us. It is our greatest teacher, and our greatest gift, if we can learn to distinguish between real love, and love without fear and love without expectation.

Dedicated to all the lovers out there. Be brave. Be vulnerable. Believe in love Xx

Dedicated devotional surrender

Throughout my life I have often felt a sense of urgency – to get to University, to get a job as a Solicitor, to run faster, to be thinner, fitter, to stand on my head, to earn enough money to buy a house, to meet a man and have babies, to have good holidays but work hard enough to retire at a reasonable age (before this became practically impossible in the UK). And at some point throughout all of that I was to obtain happiness, a sense of purpose and satisfaction during this exhausting ‘gift’ of life. It’s fair to say at many stages I’ve wanted a refund.

Now, I know I’ve been swanning around with my backpack since October but I am not a work shy person – I think it’s my nature (apparently I have a significant amount of Mars & Sun energy – whaddya mean I’m feisty?) but also, in part, from my upbringing – a mother who encouraged my independence and autonomy and a stepfather who entered the RAF at 17 (who makes the bed with hospital corners like no one else), who still works full time at 69 and who believes `if a job is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right`. I’ve always tried hard to do this life right.

As you may already know, about three years ago, in the midst of insomnia, panic attacks and stress, I began to question the purpose of my life, of where I was heading (apart from to the GP regularly) and what the point of it all was. I had seemed to stagnate and was festering in a flow of working too hard and beginning to feel too old to ‘play out’ as hard. There was something missing. And through yoga I found a map to a yoga mat which over time led to a large flashing arrow pointing to a spiritual life. Then to a thunderbolt moment that there was indeed something MORE than the daily dirge. And in my relief, excitement and all that Mars energy I ploughed head first into that – building a business, building community and contacts, finding and setting up my own studio and building a new life for myself on what I thought were firmer foundations. It was only after I reached a ‘successful’ peak of working 6-7 days a week, working 3 jobs, taking no holiday (as I was building a business) that I began to suspect things were not as zen or any calmer than they had been in my first life this life.

The restlessness I have felt, the loneliness I have felt, has been hidden, buried deep under a dogged work ethic, a need to please people (or at least avoid their disappointment) and an endless thirst to understand myself and my purpose in this life. This unease would be brought to the fore with every break up, every apparent obstacle in my way and during illness when vulnerability crept in. It has been with me wherever I go, work, travel and play. It has been with me on the comedown of a fantastic holiday, or a fantastic date. It is the shadow as I remember how much I miss my friends and parts of my life in London, and selfishly, it has been triggered at each and every wedding of friends and family and with the birth of all the scrummy babies around me. And, it has haunted me for much of my travels as I have sat with the frustration that my way back home, and my way back into work remains unclear.

Yesterday, I had the honour of marking my 35th tour around the Sun. I celebrated all day culminating in an evening meal of an utterly horrendous veg sandwich and 8 chips. A meal to forget. A dear friend messaged me wishing me well, but also letting me know it would be perfectly normal if I was freaking out on my new stride towards 40. She knows my neurotic self well. Other friends sent me delicious photos of their babies sending me love & my little nephew sang happy birthday to me on a video (produced and heavily directed by Mother Dearest). And all I felt yesterday was love. I looked at the little bodies of the little people born to friends and family of mine and all I felt was warmth in my heart and wonder at their little selves, smiles and their lives ahead. That at 35 I am happy, content and loved despite the irony that I have nothing of material ‘value’ (except my very precious harmonium which I am dearly attached to). I am staring down my dwindling savings account, I am very much single, unattached and un-pregnant (a phase of womanhood?!). And that all these things have been not so friendly ghosts over the last few years.

But love has spooked the spooks! The greatest gift of my 35 years has been the gift I chose to give myself – the commitment to myself, to remembering to give myself space, time and relaxation. The gift of following my heart back to India and into yoga communities to be held, supported and given the opportunity to explore love, love for myself and God. Bhakti yoga has transformed my heart, my head and my thought processes. It is setting up firmer foundations than I allowed myself on my last tour of India. That love, mantra, positive thinking and gratitude has eroded so much of the negative self talk and limiting beliefs that kept me caught up like a dog repetitively circling and chewing its tail of lack, comparison and worry.

In December last year, my Guru gave me the name Kīrtan Devī which means devotional surrender. And as I sit and reflect on the last 7 months of travel, of yoga, of freedom from the shackles of ‘should’, of freedom from focussing on the ‘lack’ of things I have in my life (job, income, man, babies, avocados), I realise how surrender has helped me find peace with all I have now and all that I am. That surrender into love, the love of God, has helped me become a little more gracious in accepting my path so far, and the belief that whatever comes next for me is in my highest good – even if it involves a three night stay in one of Delhi’s delightful hospitals.

I do not know what will happen to me today, tomorrow, next month, never mind, next year. I do not know if I will meet someone and share a healthy human experience of love which has been pretty much denied to me this life, so far (karma is a bitch to work off sometimes). I do not know if I will ever carry, birth and love my own baby. But as much as I know I still want these things, I also know now that I am and will be happy without them. Because I am happy without them! That there is so much more available to me if I keep open to love in all its forms. That this life, in however it unfolds, is a gift, and that there are many ways to love, and to mother (I’ve been mothering friends of mine for years!) and that love is always available to me in this life. It is the source of life. And my life purpose is spiritual growth. And it has been the denial of those experiences I have longed for that has led me to this moment, to this understanding, to this soft feeling of peace (which I am trying not to scare away). For me, my life appears to be about sharing the truth in my heart with anyone of you who cares to listen. It’s about hopefully inspiring you to take a different look at your life and how you treat yourself too. It is about continuing to do the work, the practice, the mantra recitation, and keeping hope and faith in the greater good even on the difficult days, on the days I still feel a little lost. It’s about staying present, staying calm and knowing that the energy that connects us all, that feeds us all, feeds and sustains this life is love. And that in love, we are safe, loved, and provided with all that we need (including avocados).

So roll on 40, roll on life. I am enjoying and learning so much from the ride.

Namaste & thank you for reading.

Kīrtan Devī xx

Finding my way home

In five days of being home at the ashram in Rishikesh I have already received so much nourishment and developments in this unexpected spiritual journey of mine. Let me clarify- the building blocks were set at home although there is something in the air around here (not just the smell of cow poop). I’m not sure when it happened this year but at some point in time I surrendered to my faith in the Power of the Universe (God, the Divine, however it relates or doesn’t to you). My yoga practice became more reverent, more devoted and more grateful for the way my body moves and allows me to access this life – physically and spiritually. And with that followed an openness to explore what literally makes my heart sing with unconditional love. It was chanting mantra and finally I accepted that it was also Kirtan – devotional chanting traditionally community folk music from India. Think happy Hare Krishnas and that appears to be where my heart has found its home.

Believe me when I say no one was more surprised than me by this realisation! The first Kirtan I went to at the ashram in June 2015 was mildly traumatising for this previously uptight Brit. I sat in bemusement as the group around me banged drums, whirled their hips with abandon and sang to Shiva. But like my initial reluctance to shove salt water through my nostrils, my resistance softened with time and with surrender to the experience. Kirtan however remained one area of challenge for me as for the whole of my adult life I believed I could not sing. So I didn’t. I was embarrassed by my voice (or lack of one) unless you got me one too many vodkas and plonked me in the safety of a karaoke booth with just my friends.

I indulged my secret habit of singing during my drives around Liverpool and Southport for yoga jobs. It was a delightful opportunity to belt out a few of my favourite numbers and laugh when I hit (regularly) a bum note. And perhaps I did not quite appreciate it at that stage but it was all part of me finding and connecting to my voice. That’s also the main reason why I outed myself on Facebook as a vegan – because I had been apologising in jest for years for being an awkward vegetarian and I was fearful of being even more awkward or of having to defend my choices if I went vegan. But I needed to be heard and after some clarification that there is plenty of food I can still eat it all happened without too much fuss. Although I have been warned that giving up booze would be the last straw for some close to me…

Anyway, back to my singing! I have been known to put myself in uncomfortable situations and so in that spirit of self development I decided this year that I should confront my fears and host kirtans in Southport. I did a couple alongside my beautiful colleagues Sharon and Johnny and with the honourable company of fellow open minded Southport souls. Like anything in life, we improve with practice -the nerves lessen and the joy takes over. And it was those baby steps that led me to have the confidence to volunteer myself to lead a Kirtan song on the second day of my course this week, in the home of Kirtan, in the ashram that means so much to me, surrounded and slightly intimidated by other yoga teachers and residents watching and waiting. With a racing heartbeat and a few deep breaths I gathered myself together and I let my voice free. I sang a devotional chant to the Great Mother (Jai Ambe by Bhavana (the professionals!) and I connected with my heart, with my love for the Mother within me and around me. The Mother that has held me in these last two years of stumble and fall, of trying to find my way forward as the real me. Liz the yogini, the believer – not Liz the Lawyer, the overachiever, the people pleaser.

Call it a receptive audience but the energy went wild. We all sang together with drums, people danced and clapped and smiled and I held the space for the group but also held my deep and almost uncomfortably burning love for God at my heart. As I rested with this love and unexpected feeling of liberation and euphoria (which comes from facing your fears big or small) something a little strange then happened to me- I saw a deep vibrant blue colour. Seeing colour is believed to be seeing your aura and blue is intuition (so I am told). You see despite varied meditation experiences I’ve not before had this ability to ‘see’ which rather frustrated my overachieving fear-of-spiritually-missing-out soul. This time though I know that I saw it – it wasn’t merely the light coming through my eyelids, as usual.

To face a fear, to let your voice be heard, is one of the greatest freedoms I have experienced to date. And it means even more to me to know I have connected with the love I am meant to feel, to share and to believe in even on the darkest of days. Finding love and connection with the Divine has also freed me up, a little, in respect of my expectations to feel love and connect with men, loved ones and friends. Humans basically. Our fellow humans cause us so much pain because we have our own expectations of them and if you can just, even if only a little, find a deeper love from within you to sustain you then your expectations soften and your fellow humans can be just that – human. Perfectly imperfect. Which we all are and always will be. And I believe we are all searching for love and acceptance, some in more damaging and disruptive ways than others, and I for one have struggled and searched high and low for love in some amazing, amusing and also painful of places but it’s only now that I get it. That you can cultivate love from within – a dizzying overwhelming love and connection to life if you let your heart be free to do the things you love. And my heart is happiest when singing to God out loud and proud. So go follow your heart. And remember that your faith is always greater than your fear.

NB. This week also included: sticking a rubber tube in my nostril and down into my throat and gagging on my guru as he tried to pull it out with his hand… Meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Swimming in the Ganges. Attending an Aarti (fire ceremony). Being munched by mosquitos. Eating my body weight in lentils and daal but crushingly finding out that the banana samosas here are NOT vegan. I repeat are NOT vegan and they were pretty much the reason I came back here…spiritual fulfilment was my second aim. And there’s been more. More expectations, frustrations and also love and joy and new friendships and new beginnings. I know not what happens next but only that I am blessed to be here now.

To be continued…..(subject to Indian wifi)

OPEN DAY at The Dairy

Liz (Renewed You Yoga) and Sharon (Strimasana Yoga) are proud to host our FREE open day at The Dairy on Sunday 25 June 2017.

Join us and our Partners Johnny Booth – Avalon Personal & Spiritual Development and The Plant Academy for a day of taster yoga sessions including Kirtan, Reiki, Meditation and Xi Gong. Also on offer is a special lunch with The Plant Academy at The Dairy. We are also delighted to offer complimentary juice and cake tasters after each class and a range of The Plant Academy items will be available to purchase in the Dairy

All places in classes and for lunch must be reserved by contacting the teacher or The Plant Academy directly by email and we will respond and confirm your place. First come, first served!

Liz –lgyogasouthport@gmail.com

Sharon- Strim71@hotmail.co.uk

Johnny – johnnyboothavalon@gmail.com

Ellie – eleanor@theplantacademy

9:15-10:00 Akhanda Hatha Yoga with Liz
17 mats available

10:15-11:00 Xi Gong with Johnny
17 mats available

10:15-11:00 Mum & Baby Yoga with Liz
6 mats available

11:15-12:00 Yoga & Reiki energising flow with Sharon
17 mats available

12:15-13:00 Pregnancy Yoga with Liz
10 mats available

13:00-14:00
Lunch with The Plant Academy – join Ellie for a special lunch offer with The Plant Academy. £6.50 meal deal including tomato and cashew soup, a small hummus and falafel sandwich and your choice of chakra balancing tea from Positivitea. (12 places available) Booking is essential. Contact eleanor@theplantacademy to secure your seat.

14:00-14:45 Women’s Yoga with Sharon
14 mats available

15:00-15:45 Wellbeing, Philosophy and Meditation class with Liz
20 places available

16:00-16:45 Yin Yoga with Reiki with Sharon
14 mats available

17:00-17:45 Restore & Renew Yoga with Liz
14 mats available

18:00-18:45 Kirtan with Liz, Sharon & Johnny
20 spaces available

19:00-19:45 Yin Yoga with Sharon
14 mats available

Six reiki facial taster sessions with Sharon – 10 minute appointments available at:
9:15AM, 9:35AM, 10:15AM, 10:35AM, 12:15AM, 12:35AM

Upcoming events for June 2017!

Hello All

UPCOMING EVENTS, CLASSES & WORKSHOPS – Yoga at the Dairy!

I hope you are enjoying this sunny Bank Holiday weekend! Is that a first?!

I am settling well into my new Yoga Studio 91A King Street PR8 1LQ which is off the main road – secluded, tranquil and dedicated to Yoga and holistic health and healing. I hope those of you who have made it down are also enjoying the new space.

My current yoga timetable is:

Mondays

17:30-18:30 Akhanda Hatha Yoga £6

19:30-20:30 Restore & Renew Yoga £6

Tuesdays

12:30-13:15 Akhanda Hatha Yoga £5 (45 mins) NEW CLASS

18:30-19:45 Pregnancy Yoga (£11 or £9 with block booking)

Wednesdays

19:00-20:00 Akhanda Hatha Yoga £6

20:00-20:45 Wellbeing, Philosophy/Meditation classes £5 (2nd and 4th Wednesdays every month)

Fridays

7:00-8:00 Akhanda Hatha Yoga £6

18:30-19:30 Restore & Renew Yoga £6

 

In addition to these regular classes the following events are coming up:

Mum & Baby Yoga – 4 week course commencing Tuesday 30 May 10-11AM £40 – limited spaces available.

A gentle and safe way for new mums to return to exercise and find time for themselves with Yoga. Including baby massage, bonding time and sing-a-long.

 

Stress Management Workshop – Sunday 4 June 2017 2pm-5pm £25 – spaces available.

During this relaxing and informative afternoon event, you will be guided through a selection of holistic therapy taster sessions including restorative yoga, massage therapy or reflexology and Xi Gong practices. Join us in an interactive seminar discussing how to reduce and manage stress through four key areas – exercise, diet/nutrition, sleep and relaxation. The focus of this workshop will be about ‘balance’ There will be three short talks on nutrition, yoga and Ayurveda, and organic nutritional remedies, followed by a round table discussion on sleep and rest, ending with a guided group meditation. You’ll also receive wellbeing tips with tea and tasty nutritional treats.

 

Second Restore & Renew Pamper Night – Friday 23 June 2017 19:30-20:30 £18 only 4 mats left

This special evening event will begin with a restorative yoga class in soothing candlelight and aromatherapy oils, using lavender eye pillows, bolsters, pillows and blankets to help you relax deeply and release stress and tension from your body. We will then indulge in a complimentary glass of prosecco (or herbal tea) and sweet treats before Liz will guide you through a self mini facial using organic, natural and nourishing products from Neal’s Yard Remedies. There will also be time to sample other lovely skincare and well-being products and take goodies home with you to prolong your pampering.

Kirtan on Sunday 11 June 2017 8pm-9pm £5

Sharon, Johnny and I are joining forces again for Kirtan at The Dairy on Sunday 11 June 2017 8-9pm.

Kirtan is collective, melodic chanting of devotional mantras and is a form of meditation and Bhakti Yoga. Kirtan helps to connect with your own voice and sound, it lifts energy and mood taking you to a happy, peaceful meditative state. It was a transformational experience for me in India and I cannot wait to share this with you all!

 

OPEN DAY Sunday 25 June 2017

SAVE THE DATE! Free events at The Dairy all day on Sunday 25 June 2017 – more details coming soon. Will include Akhanda Hatha Yoga, Yoga with Reiki, Restorative Yoga & Yin Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Mini facial taster sessions, Pregnancy Yoga, Mum and Baby Yoga and Kirtan (devotional meditation practice). Something for everyone!

 

Look forward to sharing these events with you. I will try and blog soon too. I have missed writing but I am busy with good things, with yoga things, and manifesting more. ; )

Namaste

Liz x

 

Kirtan at The Dairy in Southport Wednesday 3 May 2017

Sharon, Johnny and I are joining forces for our first Kirtan event at The Dairy on Wednesday 3 May 2017 8-9pm.
 
Kirtan is collective, melodic chanting of devotional mantras and is a form of meditation and Bhakti Yoga. Kirtan helps to connect with your own voice and sound, it lifts energy and mood taking you to a happy, peaceful meditative state. It was a transformational experience for me in India and I cannot wait to share this with you all!
 
Johnny is a musician and along with his fantastic voice we will also be accompanied by instruments in what promises to be a special event in Southport. Explore yoga and meditation with Kirtan in the beautiful yoga room at the Dairy. The acoustics are fabulous even with just the three of us.
 
All places must be booked in advance by sending £5 to me via PayPal using my email LGYogaSouthport@gmail.com (please select pay a friend/family). Alternatively, contact me for my bank details or leave £5 in cash with Sharon, Johnny or I before 3 May 2017.
 
Liz x