Approaching Grief Through Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

an interview with Monique Minahan

Monique is a yoga teacher whose niche is teaching yoga tailored for grief. She’s the mama of a sweet and energetic toddler and last year compiled her many writings on grief and loss into a short book titled “The Unedited Heart.” This year she launched her more expansive project, The Grief Practice, with hopes of shifting the culture around grief globally.

Yoga One: When did you first start teaching yoga in a way that welcomed all the emotions of grief?

Monique: A year ago I approached a local hospice center with a desire to offer a weekly bereavement yoga class. I wanted to offer an approach that grief wasn’t something to fix, but as something to welcome. Grief is often held in the body and yoga guides us back into our physical form, where we can invite the grief to take up space. To surge. To recede. To flow. To be.

Editor’s Note: Go here if you are interested in taking a bereavement yoga class with Monique in Carlsbad, CA.

Yoga One: What does trauma-sensitive mean in your classes?

Monique: Trauma-sensitive means I teach the class in a trauma-informed way, taking into account how the body lodges traumatic experiences and how I, as a yoga teacher, can unknowingly trigger the body’s memory of traumatic experiences. For example, by the words I use or by initiating touch without permission. I teach the students anchoring techniques that they can “hold onto” when their emotions, feelings or memories become overwhelming.

I have tremendous respect for the power of grief whether it is of a traumatic nature or not. The first thing I say in every class is that it’s okay to cry. It’s amazing the relief people feel when they’re given permission to cry.

Yoga One: What are consent rocks and how do you use them in class?

Monique: They are simply rocks on which I’ve painted “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. I use the consent rocks to let the students tell me whether they want any physical adjustment or touch throughout the class. Touch can be intrusive or healing.  Touch can be unwelcome one day and welcome another.

Inviting the students to choose what parts of the practice support them on any given day is a really important part of this class. In final relaxation, for example, I give options to lie on their side or on their belly. Sometimes students who attend the class are only weeks out from tremendous loss and lying on their back feels too exposed.

Yoga One: Yoga means union. I imagine that union, or healing, after the initial separation and wound of grief is very powerful, especially to experience in community – what have you seen come out of these classes that surprised you?

Monique: I have witnessed some incredibly beautiful and unexpected moments in this class. One time, that I’ll never forget, happened in the first few months of teaching the class.

At the beginning of the class, after we’ve grounded and centered our bodies, I invite the students to bring their hands to their hearts and say the name or names of their loved ones, out loud, or to themselves. Often I see tears as they say the names, which one would expect. But one time there was a woman sitting in the front row. I saw her mouth the name and then she smiled the biggest, most beautiful smile. It broke my heart in a good way, seeing that face of grief that we don’t often see or show. That love that still lives on.

Yoga One: You’re working on a project called The Grief Practice, what is it? 

Monique: In its final form, The Grief Practice will be a large book that is part stories of loss and part mindfulness practices. There will be techniques offered that support the full experience of losing and learning to live with loss.

Right now, I’m collecting stories to include in the book. Not everyone tells their story through writing. Some people tell a story through drawing or photography. I want to share various approaches to story-telling to honor the authenticity of each person’s experience.

The thing about grief is that it’s not linear. That means our stories don’t always have a happy ending or proceed in a linear way. I hope this book will give the world a new perspective on grief, support, and our fellow humans who are grieving. I hope this helps encourage us all to step into this uncomfortable conversation with grief armed with courage and love.

To submit your story to The Grief Practice, go here. 

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19 Ways to Practice Radical Self-Love

by Laura McCorry

When my military husband was deployed, I kept a list on a whiteboard of things I could do to boost my spirits when I was feeling down and lonely. Some were aimed at fostering good mental health, like connecting with other people, while some were simply indulgent treats I was giving myself pre-permission to have and enjoy.

I highly encourage everyone to make your own list and keep it handy! It doesn’t matter if you’re going through the toughest season of your life or if you feel on top of the world –

No matter who you are, no matter what’s going on, you are here and you are deserving of love, especially from yourself!

Here are some suggestions if I had to re-write the list today:

  1. Call a friend
  2. Buy a treat at a bakery
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Get a massage
  5. Take a yoga class
  6. Make a coffee date
  7. Make a wine date
  8. Write a letter
  9. Make a pot of tea
  10. Be a tourist in your own town
  11. Go outside
  12. Visit a state park
  13. Video chat with family
  14. Make art
  15. Read a book
  16. Go to a museum
  17. Listen to music
  18. Meditate
  19. Start a gratitude journal

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

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Beyond The Mat: Heather Fenwick

How do yoga teachers feel about their practice? What inspires them to keep teaching and keep practicing yoga? Get to know your Yoga One teachers outside the studio and off the mat. This month’s interview is with Heather Fenwick.

photo by Scott Bennion

 

1. Why do you practice yoga?

I practice yoga these days more for the mental and emotional benefits. I love combining the idea of sthira and sukha (effort and ease) while sitting in a traffic jam, or during a difficult conversation.

2. What was the most intimidating aspect of our teaching when you first started?

My first teacher training didn’t include any actual practice teaching, so putting together the words and phrases was a great challenge for me. It wasn’t until later that I was even able to observe a classroom properly so that I could give appropriate feedback! (I can’t blame my teacher trainers though, as that program was jam-packed with useful information!)

3. What gives you the most joy as a yoga instructor?

Teaching yoga is often the best part of my day! I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can make the world a better place, and while I would love to wave a magic wand so that every single person is driven primarily by empathy and compassion, I realize that teaching yoga takes a close second. When we feel good, when we can observe our strengths and our faults, when we can approach pleasure and suffering with equanimity, then we can spread joy, acceptance, and altruism out into the world around us.

4. If yoga were a food, car, smell, planet, song, artist, flavor, etc… it would be: Jim James’s voice of My Morning Jacket. I melt into bliss as my heart cracks open and spills forth.

photo by Kalid Barre

5. What’s your yoga inspiration?

Every single moment is my yoga inspiration. We are here to perfect the art of living, but not necessarily to live “perfectly.” When I’m in line at the grocery store and catch myself planning out my next 8 steps in my list of things to do – I try to take a single conscious breath, look around me and notice what is true in the Here and Now.

For me, living my yoga is when I can hold my head high in times of disappointment or “failure,” and if I can take success with humility and acknowledge that we are all interconnected.

6. What classes do you teach at Yoga One?

I teach Wednesdays Level 1-2 Flow at noon, as well as offsite corporate classes.

You can find our full class schedule here. Om!

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Yogi Reads: Women Who Run With the Wolves

by Olivia Cecchettini

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“Within every woman is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.” – Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Summary: Dr. Estes is a Jungian Psychoanalyst who believes that the true spirit of woman has been buried deep in the depths of her soul, to the point that she is somewhat unrecognizable even to herself. Women Who Run With the Wolves is a collection of stories aimed at uncovering the primal woman within.

According to Dr. Estes, there is a connection between women and wolves; she believes they share a psychic bond in their fierceness, grace, and devotion to their families and mate. This comparison defines the Wild Woman Archetype throughout the book. It shows the reader how fulfilling and glorious it is to be daring, to be nurturing, and to be a woman. 

I believe most women can relate to feeling as though their energy has been tamped down by the world… that we all have areas of our lives where we are playing it safe, staying small, and not shining as brightly as we could. What would happen if every woman felt empowered to trust herself? If we came together in community, allowed one another to be vulnerable, and shared stories with authenticity and love? What kind of world would emerge?

Why I Love It: This book is full of inspirational stories that may help you tap into your psyche and open your intuition. I was reminded of life before modern technology made everyone accessible but also less connected. I love that this book reignited my desire for authentic connection, both with my own primal nature and with all of womanhood.

I was still reading this book during International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2017 when so many women (and men) across the country protested for gender equality. I was struck by the sense of community, an awakening among those who have been quiet or scared in the past but who now share their voices. I believe the vulnerability and strength of women can change the world. The time is now – let’s rise together.

Recommended For: All my sisters out there, this book is for you! There is a primal wisdom held deep within us all just waiting to be birthed into our lives. These stories reveal characters who struggle to find this wisdom, before tapping into their innate potential and learning to live more freely from the heart.

I have always felt the call to support and connect with the women in my life. If you are hearing that same whisper or are just ready for change within yourself, I hope this spiritual book will fill you up to the brim like it did for me.

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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The Yoga of Parenthood

by Laura McCorry

toddler walking LMcCorry

The Yoga of Parenthood

I’m a yoga teacher who doesn’t do yoga at home.

At least, not in the way many people understand yoga –
I don’t unroll my mat in the living room while the toddler naps,
even though many days I want to and feel like I should.

My yoga practice doesn’t look the same as it used to,
but neither do I. My body is not the same, nor is my heart.

My yoga is the not-so-silent meditation of watching steam
curl up from the teapot. Three minutes of breathing, of focus
while the little person at my feet repeatedly calls my name.

My yoga is a square of chocolate eaten behind pantry doors
that reminds me to stay present, that this moment will pass,
that I am still myself and sometimes, I don’t have to share.

I feel the fiery embrace of yoga, my muscles holding the pose
of grocery bags over one arm, my child held close in the other.
This is tapas, too. This is the work of daily refinement.

Yoga doesn’t care whether you move through life fast or slow
as long as you are awake for this moment, right now.
We spend forty seconds admiring some clover rooted in earth.

It takes us thirty-five minutes to walk around the block,
my child doesn’t feel time pulling with her thousand fingers.
This, the sacred gift of childhood, to grow rooted in being.

My yoga teaches me to live the way my heart already loves,
and how to choose being over doing, as many times as necessary.

 

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

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Valentine’s Partner Yoga

Imagine the perfect Valentine’s evening: Candlelight. Chocolate. Live music. Yoga.

Wait, yoga?

Yes, yoga! Yoga not only strengthens your connection to your self, it can bring you closer together with someone you love. After all, yoga is known for its “heart-opening” poses. Come experience a unique partner workshop and a beloved annual tradition at Yoga One.

Valentine’s Partner Yoga Workshop

with Arati Lane

Friday, February 17, 2017 6:30pm

Get in touch with your partner or reconnect with a good friend through yoga! Come practice poses as a couple, share inner dynamics and celebrate Valentine’s Day! Through a guided practice you will learn to help each other go deeper into alignment and assist each other with hands on adjustments and props.

There will be chocolate and candlelight accompanied by live music.
Bring your loved one or a friend! Make a date to celebrate Love and Yoga!

Pre-registration $50 per couple / $55 day of event, Sign up on our workshops page.

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Becoming One in Ancient Egypt

by Hannah Faulkner

kneeling-twistIndia is commonly known as the motherland of yoga, but what if I told you that yoga originally began in Egypt and then traveled to India hundreds of years later?

Paintings, engravings, and murals from ancient Egyptian tombs and temples show images of figures in positions that represent some commonly known yoga poses.

According to the book, Egyptian Yoga: Postures of the Gods and Goddesses by Dr. Muata Ashby and Dr. Karen Ashby….

We can find the god Geb (god of the Earth) in plough pose engraved on the ceiling of the Temple of Aset (Isis).

Framing him is the goddess, Nut (goddess of the sky), in a forward fold yoga pose.

Further, we can see Geb in a spinal twist and Ra in the squatting position like Virasana, Hero’s pose.

Dr. Ashby proclaims that yoga was practiced in Egypt earlier than anywhere else in our history, long before the evidence is detected in India (including the Indus Valley Civilization) or any other early civilization (Sumer, Greece, China, etc.). This point of view is supported by illustrative and documented scriptural evidence of physical exercises, meditations, and implementation of wisdom teachings in daily life.

It is commonly believed that the practice of the yoga in India began with the use of the Lotus Pose, which is traced to stone engravings in the Indus Valley culture (1500 BCE). However, the use of the lotus pose here could possibly only symbolize the iconography of meditation. This seated flower position represents a spiritual person who develops detachment and dispassion from the world since it sits in the muddy water but is not touched or affected by the mud. Yoga poses, as we know them in the western world, developed much later in India’s history.

Click here to read more about the fascinating connection between yoga and ancient Egypt on Hannah’s blog, Half Moon Yoga and Art.

The San Diego Museum of Man in accordance with Yoga One San Diego come together twice a month (2nd and 4th Saturdays) at 8:30am-9:30am to hold a special yoga class in the Rotunda.

Picture

Hannah Faulkner will be teaching class on February 11th, 2017.

Will you join us for this journey in Ancient Egypt?

Buy Your Ticket Here

and be sure to tell the Museum of Man that Yoga One sent you!

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Yogi Reads: The Teacher Appears

by Olivia Cecchettini

The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts to Power Your Yoga Practice 

by Brian Leaf

5123-tbamvl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Summary: We choose who to see, what to wear, what to eat, how to exercise… Every moment offers us the opportunity to choose our response, yet often many of us run on auto-pilot as though sleep-walking through the day.

Wake up! Come back to your breath, come back to your conscious self. Recognize that you have the freedom to choose. Exercise that gift.

The Teacher Appears includes inspiration from teachers like Sean Corne, Govindas, and Shiva Rae, but also uniquely challenges the reader with the inclusion of questions. These questions prompt mindful introspection; a simple, yet powerful, tool that contains the beginnings of meditation.

The more tools we have to “stay awake,” the more we can choose to live with intention. Yoga is one of those tools for me and this book provides 108 examples, suggestions, and inspiration to put intention into practice.

Why I Love It: Part journal, part book, The Teacher Appears is the kind of book you don’t read from cover to cover. You can pop it open at any page, even when you don’t have time to read an entire chapter. One small passage could shift my mindset into a more positive place, changing the course of my day.

As a yoga teacher, I loved reading about the experiences of other teachers. To teach yoga often means surrendering your ego, your likes and dislikes, to show up and speak from the heart to whoever is there. It is an act of service. The stories of other teachers on the same path encourage me and re-affirm my commitment to teaching.

Recommended For: Those with the goal of living intentionally. This book could add depth to your life, not just your yoga practice. And you don’t have to be a yogi to enjoy The Teacher Appears because its message is based in self-awareness, which is a skill that benefits all walks of life.

This book encourages readers to take daily activities and make them sacred. You can learn a new way to move in your body. To share your gifts. To feel the fear, but do the thing you want to do anyways. This book may help you tap into the authentic part of yourself and let you know you’re not alone. I hope you enjoy it!

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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Have You Found The One?

yoga5It’s the start of the new year and the time when many people make life goals or resolutions for the year ahead. If your goal is to eat healthier and exercise more – you are far from alone! The top New Year’s resolutions each year focus on health.

If your goal is to practice more yoga – welcome to the club! Yoga provides a uniquely holistic approach to health, strengthening body, mind and spirit.

Our mission at Yoga One has always been to help as many people as possible enjoy healthier and happier lives. Our instructors meet you where you are in your practice and we offer several classes suitable for absolute beginners. (See our full schedule here.)

When it comes to health and wellness, we believe that there is no single prescription for every body. Therefore we also offer excellent private yoga instruction. For some people this is their primary practice and for others, they use private sessions to get more out of their group class experiences. Whatever your motivation, we would love to connect with you! Call 619-544-0587.

Whether you are an experienced practitioner or an absolute beginner, the only thing you may ultimately really want is that special oneHere is a carefully curated comparison of many of the top yoga mats. We hope it helps you to pick the perfect mat* to support your practice.

*There is a “winner” listed, but each mat has a description of its best qualities and reviews based on how it performs in the studio.

We hope you find “the one” yoga mat for you – but even more, we hope to see you soon and often at Yoga One!

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5 Mindfulness Practices to Ring in the New Year

by Laura McCorry

the_bell2016 didn’t go exactly the way you wanted?

Feeling low after the frenetic holiday buzz and time spent with family?

Secretly frustrated by the overblown New Year’s Resolution pep and enthusiasm on your newsfeed?

For all of you Anti-resolutioners, the Dreamers trying to kindle a new dream in their hearts, the Seekers who want to live a truth so big it won’t fit into fancy images with inspirational quotes – this is for you. 

Ring in the New Year, not with a New You, but by fully accepting the Old You… with all of your flaws and scars, the heart-thumping, fully alive and present you.

  1. Ring a bell. Bells, gongs, and chimes have been used the world over for centuries as a call to attention. They precede religious gatherings, call out the time of day and still sometimes announce the start of school. The tone of a bell reminds you to pay attention, and to set aside this time for something different. Ring your own bell, find the space and quiet you need, then sit down with yourself.
  2. Start with yourself. Want to experience more love, peace and health in the new year? Start this moment by modeling those behaviors with yourself. Do one activity today that will enhance your wellbeing. Choose one part of your body that you love and repeat that affirmation aloud in front a mirror. (We’re huge supporters of body positivity – here’s more! How Do You Feel Sexy and Yoga and Body Positivity.)
  3. Cultivate Gratitude. Instead of asking for what you need and what you want from this new year, ask yourself what you have and what you can give. This means changing your perspective from one of scarcity to abundance. (Read more about that here.) Acknowledging the gifts and joys we already have creates gratitude and from gratitude flows generosity towards others.
  4. Say yes more often. One of the first principles of Anusara Yoga is “open to grace,” it means expanding your awareness and establishing a connection to something bigger than yourself. Choose to participate in your community. Say yes to new experiences. Say yes to new friends. Say yes to new ways to love yourself.
  5. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Life-changing habits are notoriously difficult to put into action long-term. Rather than thinking about the future and how many days or months you’d like to do something – start with today. Do one thing that will positively impact your life today. After all, the present moment is the only one we really have.
  6. Bonus tip: spend some time engaging with a child – they are masters of the present moment!

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

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