ARC Blog

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:

http://www.facebook.com/anchorageretreatcenter

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:

https://store.yoga4love.com/membership/7umzw

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
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Ka0pyuSeLFTPM2uIvvBRQ

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.” (www.terragraceyoga.com › 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.

 www.yoga4love.com
Check out Inner Goddess Retreats and Online Yoga 200-300 Teacher Training

Video Game Meditation

I have been an avid gamer for most of my life, leaning more towards RPGs and Action/Adventure types. I remember in high school spending hours at a time building up my characters, or ‘grinding’, to get them to the level I needed to defeat the next big boss in the story line.

I now watch my wife playing an online first person shooter and wonder if something so violent can help to calm the mind. She has said it’s a great way for her to socialize with friends outside of our area and to concentrate on something other than today’s problems.

Destiny 2

With RPGs I always felt the violence was so stylized that it was less like beating someone up to win points and more a way to push through to complete a hard earned goal or quest. I think that one can use these games to escape the body they inhabit and journey to somewhere else, almost like a parallel universe.

In this universe, you are no longer your body. You become the avatar you move only with your mind and a few choice finger movements. Time seems to stop when you are engrossed in a great game. I have had countless times where I ‘lost’ hours of the day in what felt like a blink of an eye because I was so focused on the game. This can also have major consequences if left unchecked. Addiction to this parallel world can sap precious time and even affect how you are in this one. In high school I was so obsessed with playing Final Fantasy VIII that my school work suffered and my parents had to forbid it for a time. But all things need balance.

Final Fantasy VIII

Getting out of your body, out of your daily stress patterns and focusing on a task is definitely a mindfulness and meditation practice. I even watched a movie recently that showed the wife go and do yoga when stressed and the husband put on his video game. It made perfect sense to me. Every brain works differently. Find the path that works for you and find your balance.

Love & Light!

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

Go to Www.yoga4love.com for more info on their online training and inner goddess retreats.

Check out Anchorage Retreat Center on Facebook @anchorageretreatcenter and Instagram @anchorageretreatcenter

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

Joy in movement

Whenever I feel stuck or stagnant in a pose, I tend to make it a dance. At first I held it back and told myself that there is a reason you are meant to hold the pose for three to five breaths. But sometimes you just have to feel what’s in your body, and flowing slowly through the poses in dance feels so good! I have decided that my practice is just that, mine! When teaching a specific Vinyasa style or sequence, that is the time to listen to my teachers and my training. I find joy in both ways of yoga expression.

I have had many body image issues throughout my life and my yoga journey, but when I feel the strength of my body in a pose or dancing by myself I feel beautiful and tapped in. The energy flows through me and I feel alive and worthy.

Yoga unfortunately has become mostly for the rich who can afford a 15+ dollar class three times a week with perfect abs and amazing headstands. I want my center to be for everyone, at a price point that is manageable and all inclusive to my community. This means that woman who really wanted to try it will hopefully take that chance and join us.

I hope more plus size people can tap into that flowing energy of knowing that you are not your body, and you are not your mind. You are eternal and you are magnificent! Can’t wait for the Yurt to be build so I can start teaching and dancing with my new yogi family!

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Lain’s Notes:

I use a strap, since I normally feel tension in my shoulders, also my hips don’t allow for both feet on the ground as of yet. This pose feels very nice when I’ve been on the computer too long in a day.

“Yoga 4 Love’s Big Book of Yoga Postures” Lisa Ware E-RYT 500:

muka=face

Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs, shoulders, armpits and triceps, and chest.

“The Key Muscles of Yoga” Ray Long MD:

“The upper arm stretches the lower fibers of the pectoralis major. The pectoralis minor contracts, drawing the scapula of the lower arm forward. The rhomboids of the lower arm contract to stabilize the scapula, lifting the ribcage. Eccentrically contracting the upper arm pectoralis major facilitates this stretch.”

External rotation of the shoulder girdle & upper arms.

“The upper arm infraspinatus contracts, stretching the subscapularis. The lower arm subscapularis contracts, stretching the infraspinatus.”

“The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga” Srivatsa Ramaswami:

Keep your palms on your feet and keep your back straight. Stay in pose for six long breaths. Switch legs to keep symmetry.

(this version does not have hands binded behind the back)

“Healing Yoga” Swami Ambikananda

“What the hands are engaged in directly impacts on the heart, and what the heart feels impacts on the hands.”

Legs in front, bending one leg and place heel alongside the opposite buttock. Bend other leg and place it on top of bent one. Reach up on arm on the side of the top leg, read around and up between the shoulder blades with opposite arm. Bind.

Use strap if the posture forces your head forward.

Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee)

“Yoga 4 Love’s Big Book of Yoga Postures” Lisa Ware E-RYT 500:

janu=knee sirsa=head

Calms the brain, stretches spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groin. Stimulates the liver and kidneys, and improves digestion.

Use a blanket under the knee if injured.

“The Key Muscles of Yoga” Ray Long MD:

“The gluteus medius contracts and abducts the bent leg…Anterior fibers also medially rotate the thigh, protecting the knee.”

“The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga” Srivatsa Ramaswami:

Bend forward, hold your foot with both hands and place your forehead on your knee or further down the shin.

“Healing Yoga” Swami Ambikananda

Direct breath to the back. The muscles of the lower back will expand as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out.

Bend one knee and place heel into groin. Raise arms overhead. Pivot forward from the hips, extending arms and body down the outstretched leg. Release all effort and yield to gravity.

“Yoga Body: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana” Judith Hanson Lasater PhD:

“This pose is an asymmetrical one and therefore can cause torque at the sacroiliac joint…create the forward bend not by bending over her straight leg but rather by reaching and bending forward from the bent knee side ilium, thus reducing the torque over her SI joint.”

Svarga Dvidasana (Bird of Paradise)

Almost fell….multiple times haha

Lain’s Personal Notes:

This pose looks very intimidating and I can’t properly hold the bind myself (I used a strap) but that doesn’t mean I won’t attempt it. One day I might master it, or I may not. The fun is in trying!

“Yoga 4 Love’s Big Book of Yoga Postures” Lisa Ware E-RYT 500:

Begin in bound extended side angle pose. Step back foot forward so feet are parallel at the front of the mat. Bring yourself up to standing, keeping the bind. Extend the bound leg into a straight position when steady. You can use a strap instead of binding with your hands.

“YogaJournal.com ‘Bird of Paradise: 5 Steps to Master this Standing Pose'” YJ Editors

 How to get into this pose:

Start in Warrior Pose II -> Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana Bound Extended Side Angle Pose -> Baddha Uttanasana Bound Standing Forward Bend -> Svarga Dvijasana variation—Bird of Paradise with a bent leg -> Bird of Paradise

Dinacharya: Daily Routine

I finally feel settled in our new home and I want to start this new year on the right foot by starting my own Dinacharya, or a daily routine. I am the type of person that needs structure or nothing will get accomplished. This is the first time in my life I don’t have a fixed work schedule and it has shown in my lack of motivation and unsuccessful completion of tasks. This daily checklist will help keep me on track in my business, personal and yogic goals.

When I was thinking of starting a retreat center I dreamed of having more time to go inside myself and dig deep into my practices with this serene backdrop as my connection to the sacred. I can’t wait to share this place, but now I need to take the time to work on myself and create space so I can help others find their’s when they visit.

The present moment is where you create your world!

Love & Light!