Lain Mackenzie: Teacher

One of my last assignments for my yoga teacher training is to talk a little about myself. A personal introduction to my future students. Before sitting down to write it, this felt a little strange to me, almost too self-centered and it made me uncomfortable. Once I sat with it a little longer, I realized that I need my students to know my journey and how I might best help them in theirs. I needed to give them my tattered road map so they could learn from my own experience getting to a place of peace and oneness with life. I feel like I am now brimming over with ideas and experiences that I wish to share with whomever needs it.

I have always felt like I needed to be of service. Even as a young girl in the church and girl scouts, I really loved working for the community and feeling like I was doing something for the benefit of others. It made me feel good. Even working in management in my adulthood, I tried to help my employees in whatever way I could, be it more training to get them promoted or to be a shoulder to cry on when life kicked them down. I tried to stay available to them and be a source of comfort. Sometimes that was my downfall, when I cared so much and it was still ‘just business’ to some.

The stress of corporate life had swallowed me up for ten plus years and I had always wished I could try something new. I found yoga when I most needed it. I started to go regularly to my local studio within walking distance and it felt so good and right! But life kept going and I fell off every couple months, citing my 50+ hour work week as the problem. The real problem was I wasn’t ready to go all in with my practice. I still held my self loathing above my self worth.

Growing up, I had found it difficult to open myself up. I suffered from a deep depression in high school, being scared of who I really was. In constant fear that my loved ones would stop caring about me if they knew the truth. The realization that I was gay was a hard one for me, knowing that it would make my life harder to navigate coming from a very religious background. It solidified my teenage brain into a cycle of depression, self hatred and secrecy. It took a long time to feel okay in my own skin. I had never loved myself, and my yoga practice forced me to begin knocking the walls down and look deeper.

One day when I was really unhappy at work, I started taking some college classes for a future that I wanted to move toward, going into Hospitality Management. I only got through two semesters before I felt pulled toward another certification, my yoga teacher training. I had wanted to start my own business where I would teach yoga, run retreats and serve my community with a place to gather. I was going to wait to do my yoga training after my degree was completed, but one day I found an online training called ‘Yoga 4 Love” and pulled out my credit card immediately without hesitation.

There was no question I needed to do something. To shift my life toward another purpose. I felt it in my bones. Within two months of starting my training online, I quit my job and decided that I was not okay allowing stress to dictate my well-being anymore. It was a very emotional decision, losing the image of myself that I held so tightly for so long, but I knew that I could no longer put myself through emotional torture for a fat paycheck. I’m lucky to have a partner that really understood my suffering and gave me the permission that I felt I needed to save my sanity. She gave me the strength to take the leap. My fellow yoga teacher trainees also showed me a way of life that I yearned for. One of self care and self love.

It has been a year of major transitions, the biggest being our move three hours away from family and friends to open our own retreat center. It has not been a smooth road, and I have questioned our actions many times, but I knew that if I kept listening to my heart that it would never lead me astray. I began this journey to self love and I now feel confident that my story and knowledge can be what I share to help others.

Please contact me if you feel pulled to. Know that you are worth loving and worth the journey.

Love & Light!

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Staying Sane in Quarantine

This mass quarantine has really shifted my view on human connection. I have seen many friends and family on social media being consumed with Covid-19 memes or just the opposite, pleading for their friend list to share their personal pictures of anything but the virus buzz. My daily life hasn’t shifted as much as most since I usually work from home and my daughter isn’t in school yet, but I feel such empathy for those who’s world has completely turned upside down.

Come sip tea with me!

I have decided to start a reoccurring Facebook LIVE event called ‘Positivi-TEA with Lain’, where we connect over tea and talk about topics in self care in this time of anxiety. I had my first episode the other day and it went better than I expected! The only way it will work is if I have ‘audience participation’ and I was lucky to have a lot of my close friends on the broadcast. It felt amazing to connect and share some of my knowledge that I’ve learned through my yoga training. Check out our Facebook page and make sure you subscribe so you know when I go live next:

I’ve also been asked to teach yoga online with Yoga 4 Love Visionary Vixen Lisa Ware and her amazing group of teachers. It will give me more reach to create space and connection with people that need yoga the most in this chaotic time. I am so thrilled for all these opportunities to engage with other humans from a distance. Check it out here:

I also have started recording yoga videos on Youtube to share for free to any who like the sounds of water and slow movements.

Our Youtube Page

If you are in need of support or a friend, please reach out! I want this time of forced slow down to be a moment to breathe for us all. I wish to be of service and to help any way I can, even if it’s just a sympathetic ear. Leave a comment, send an email or DM me on Facebook. You are not alone! Find something that makes you smile everyday and we will get through this together!

Love & Light!

Sadhana: My Daily Practice

My Sadhana, or daily yoga practice has evolved through the months I have spent in yoga teacher training with Yoga 4 Love. Before starting my lessons I had never heard of the term sadhana. “Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that means a daily spiritual practice. It’s the foundation for your personal, individual effort to communicate with the divine inside of you and all around you. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve your purpose in life.” ( › blog › 40-day-sadhana-practice)

One of the first tasks I had to do when getting started on the 200 hour training was to begin my daily sadhana practice. The director Lisa taught us that it could be as small as lighting a candle every day and immediately blowing it out. You are creating a space to stop and connect with your inner self and be in the present moment. As my knowledge grew about the yoga traditions and the ‘why’s’ behind the physical part of the practice, my sadhana shifted constantly.

Here are many of the options I’ve used:

One of many ever shifting sacred spaces I’ve created for my sadhana
  • journaling
  • reading spiritual books
  • lighting incense
  • using my mala (can be substituted with rosary)
  • lighting candles
  • mantras
  • pranayama (breathwork)
  • walking in nature
  • gazing at flowing water
  • reiki work
  • intentional eating
  • burning sage or palo santo before meditation
  • practicing meta (loving kindness)
  • listening to soothing music
  • learning new healthy recipes
  • using lotions and oils for personal massage

At first when I began I became obsessed with getting everything right. Doing the same rituals over and over again at the same time of day. This didn’t help me in the long run and for my busy life with work, wife and baby it was unrealistic. It made me feel guilty if I couldn’t get the time set aside that I committed to. Once I made sadhana an organic part of my daily activities by weaving it throughout my day, only then did it start to change my life.

I didn’t need to sit on my meditation cushion to reconnect with my breath, or write in my journal at the same time of day. The spontaneity made the practice more pleasurable and less like a chore that needed to be done along with my already too long list. In bringing it into the flow of my life it gave me more opportunities to live in the present moment and see the beauty all around me, even in stressful situations. It then becomes your daily practice and a tool to be used whenever you need it.

If you wish to create more mindfulness in your life, start small and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to feel anything. Just light that candle, look at the flame, and blow it out. That simple action is like an acknowledgement that you are worth taking care of, that it is okay to slow down even if just for a breath of a moment. This practice all comes down to convincing yourself that you are worth the time. Your mental and spiritual well being should be at the top of your list. Our culture would say otherwise, so training your brain to believe it is most of the battle.

You are not being selfish by taking care of yourself. You can only lend your energy to others if you have enough reserves to give in the first place. Start loving yourself and it will change the world you see around you. Your intention is the most powerful action you have. It is the difference between misery and true overflowing happiness. Make yourself the priority to avoid burnout. You are needed at your full potential and self love is the only way you’ll get there. Have fun!

Love & Light.
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Yoga 4 Love transformed my life

My yoga teacher training with Yoga 4 Love started in April of last year, and I was in a very different place then. I was taking care of an 8 month old, working 50+ hours a week and feeling all kinds of miserable. I felt overstretched and run ragged with little work/life balance. My yoga practice then was more focused on the postures and not the meditative aspect of yoga.

Less than two months into my training I quit my job of 11 years and decided to follow a new path. The training made me realize that the stress I was inflicting on myself was breaking my spirit and I was disconnected from what was truly important: my family and my mental health. My job then felt like golden handcuffs and the money kept me captive for longer than was healthy.

Fast forward to now. We sold our house, moved three hours from family and friends and purchased property on a Great Lake to build a retreat center. It all seemed to fall into place, and we followed the Universe’s breadcrumbs obediently. There have been many bittersweet moments, frustrations and compromises along the way but I know this is where we are meant to be.

On retreat with the Goddess Tribe

I only have excitement for the future and I am so grateful to my goddess tribe from Yoga 4 Love. I have been touched by every one of the ladies I have encountered in the program, especially on the weekly sangha’s online and the Inner Goddess Retreat in Texas that I was able to attend. They have given me courage when I lacked it, motivation when I felt lost, and their love helped me gain my power back! #risegirlrise

Anna Brown and I on retreat in Texas

I am so much stronger today than I was when I began this journey and I have this group of women to thank, especially Lisa Ware and her Yoga 4 Love team. Thank you for seeing the potential in me and being the teachers I needed to help me continue on the path of self discovery and love.

To any woman looking for something more, try this program! I cannot stress enough how fabulous the tribe is and how easy it was for me to stick to the curriculum with the online component being a working mother. If you wish to delve deeper into who you truly are and start loving yourself, this might be the group for you. Get it girl! I sure did!

Photo taken by Mary Cathryn Roth in Texas

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My Shadow Self

My shadow self, my samskara (pattern), my own personal hell. It feels like I switch to a different personality, a younger more fragile version of myself. Sixteen-year-old me to be exact. This was around the first time that I realized how poor my communication skills were and when my self worth was at its lowest. I thought that it was better to hold in my emotions because I felt like it was just a waste of time to try and get someone to understand. To help someone scrape past my walls and sadness to see my inner self.

When I shift, I try and take the least amount of space in my skin, feeling unworthy to breathe or make a ripple. My eyes are glassy with unshed tears, my tongue is thick in my mouth, my breathing gets shallow. It’s so hard to escape her once she takes control.

Shadow self

There are certain circumstances that trigger the shift into this weakened mindset. Usually it’s feelings of failure, silly mistakes or not being able to talk out my feelings properly. I feel bitterly alone and helpless to stop the ‘gear shift’. The grooves are so worn in from years of use that I sometimes change into my pattern without conscious thought, and then the spiral turns inward.

Something benign can be the catalyst to an intense flood of pain and always creates a bigger situation than is required. Countless misunderstandings and hurt pool together and the other person in the conversation is my captive, unaware of the emotions that lurk beneath my surface ready to be unloaded and felt again.

My shadow self is why I work so diligently to find self love, the patterns and samskaras that are toxic in my life and to root them out. I do not wish to live in the past. Reliving hurts long gone does nothing to create the present happiness I seek with my practices of self-care and meditation.

Every opportunity I have to speak my truth instead of pushing it deeper is a start on a new path. One away from the worn pattern that only leads to shame and sadness. I am worth explaining myself, worth taking up space, worth being understood completely. I have faith that I will continue my journey to self expression and acceptance. The loving people around me give me strength and push me along the new path that I have to choose everyday over and over again. Love will be my fuel and I will steam ahead knowing that I am rewiring my brain to care about my own well being.

To anyone who has ever felt like this, know you are not alone. It can feel like one false move will ruin your entire day, but don’t let it. I am right beside you. I see you and love you even if we have never met. You are worth all of the struggle to find some sparkle and light in your journey. When you feel your emotions and attention drifting to the thought ‘here we go again‘, stop immediately. You are stuck in your shadow self and you are stronger than you know. You got this, and we are all together on this path with you.

Love & Light from a former bipolar yogi

Self-love for the Self-loather

I am reading “The Path of the Yoga Sutras” by Nicolai Bachman and I am on the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Astanga). The Yamas and Niyamas in the eight limbs are like the yogi’s equivalent of the ten commandments, the ethical practices and personal self-care to have a more pure and happy life.

The yamas: 1. nonviolence, truthfulness. 2. not taking from others. 3. conservation of vital energy. 4. nonpossessiveness

The niyamas: 1. cleanliness of body, heart-mind, and surroundings. 2. contentment 3. practice causing positive change. 3. study by and of oneself. 4. humility and faith.

The yamas were pretty clear to me, having been raised in a Christian household. The niyamas were a little different. I had really never learned about self-care growing up. I knew that certain unhealthy foods that I ate would make me gain weight and that smoking was bad for you, but delving deeper into my psyche and my inner goodness was somewhat foreign. This was no fault of my parents. They had given me a good moral backbone and kept me on a virtuous path the best they could.

My journey of learning more about yoga has been fast tracked by my work with self-care, thanks to my teacher Lisa Ware and her teacher training. At first I didn’t understand why I had to do all these self-care assignments about affirmations and taking time for myself. I was there to learn the poses (asanas) and teach it to others, that’s it! But I didn’t realize that most of yoga IS that self reflection and meditation. The physical asanas are grand, but all they are intended for is getting the body ready for deep meditation. I was blown away by this.

I had a lot of years of self-loathing under my belt and at first this process did not seem like something I could do. How could I look in the mirror and say ‘I love you’ while looking myself dead in the eyes? The thought almost made me sick to my stomach. I wasn’t even in one of my depression spells and this seemed impossible to achieve. I had put myself down for so long that lifting myself back up out of the blackness seemed like a herculean feat that I couldn’t do on my own. But with some guidance from the sutras, my teachers, my wife, my friends and my yogi tribe I have come a long way to crawling out of my negative headspace to a place of hope.

I think the first step was agreeing that everyone is made of goodness, and if that was true, I was too. No matter how many dark patterns (samskaras) I found myself in over and over again, I could break the cycle and start fresh. I was never a lost cause and I was worth finding. Once I truly believed that, so many of my samskaras were glaringly obvious to me and I was able to counteract them and breathe through my normal patterns to make a better choice. It felt like I had control for the first time in a long time, but looking deeper at the feeling, it was surrender.

There is so much in this world we cannot control. The more we try, the more helpless we feel. The real way to contentment (santosa) is to discern what we can do ourselves and what we need to let go. Just like the serenity prayer ” God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It makes perfect sense that it is the prayer used for people who are plagued by addiction. We are addicted to our patterns, they make scars from their constant use and it is hard to get out of those ruts. We have to take the time to search inward to see that we are magnificent and deserve happiness.

The universe (god) will send us what is needed on our path to grow and learn so that we can give our love and gifts to others. We also bring into our lives what we attract. If we are clouded by hate and negativity, we will bring more of that into our lives. We need to start with a strong foundation, and that is fed by loving-kindness to ourselves. A quote I love and try to live by is from Rupaul “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?” Truer words have never been spoken!

Please try and take some time for yourself, especially in this hectic holiday season. Feed your soul first, so you can be present and give to others in your life. You are the jewel in the lotus, growing from the muck and shining from within. You are worthy and you deserve it!

Love & Light!

Being Away From Home

There is something about being away from home. A new place that is a palette cleanser, but more for the soul. Being somewhere different lets the parts of your daily routine that bog you down flit away, even for a moment, creating space to be creative and daring.

The bloom of last summer
I always look forward to any time at our lake retreat. It’s small but lovely and my favorite place to be. Where even making tea feels new.
Without a real kettle, you make due
I try to live every moment with a sense of gratitude when I get the time away from the grind. I hope you find time soon too.Namaste

Manifest Happiness

I have been trying to find a daily practice of self care, or sadhana, which is required for my yoga teacher training. I have done a meditation through our MeetUps group of going to a green place on my own before work. Even if no one joins me with an RSVP on the site, I still am holding myself accountable.

At night I have started journaling, using lavender oils on my hands, ears, and feet, and lighting a candle. I have started the audio book “Wishes Fulfilled” on Audible while I drive to and from work and some of the concepts are somewhat hard to swallow coming from my christian background, but one thing has come through very clear. In holding onto negative thoughts and attitudes, I feed the negativity that comes into my life. I can feel a bad day coming a mile away, because I WILL it into being. I know that if I put an intention out to the universe to be kind or see everyone I meet as part of the whole that is in all of us, I will be more understanding and loving in my words and actions.

A pool of water that feels like I could jump into it and never hit the bottom

This concept has completely shifted my thinking and I love the way that it redirects my frustrations, anger and even unwarranted animosity to strangers that I didn’t realize I had. There is the beautiful knowledge that we are all connected and hold within us the happiness we seek. Most look outward, but it has always been inside us, living in our higher selves before we were born and even after we die. This idea is so foreign to me since I was taught that I needed to look up, to a god or deity for help and salvation. The divine is waiting to be found, you just need to look.

Do good, and good will manifest in your life

This gives me such a light feeling that I cannot wait to let go of more pain and suffering that I have held on to for years. Life on this plane is fleeting, we must feel and experience every breath, every second we are alive as a gift.