21

You can now LISTEN to this blog post HERE.

I’ve started collecting seeds from various plants in our garden. Here you see 21 seeds from 2 very small watermelon … granted I chose a mini variety, yet these little ones weren’t going to make it. Watermelon is new to me, so I’m afraid I did not provide the ideal growing conditions this year ;). However, Jim encouraged me to open these racquetball-size remnants of the withering plants & see what was inside before tossing them in the compost.

21 seeds.

I could sow 21 seeds next year & possibly (if I’m a little more attentive) see 21 watermelon plants with who knows how many watermelons on each plant.

I’ve also been separating butterfly weed seeds from their feathery wisps that carry them to new growing places. I literally have hundreds of seeds so far, with more to come. With pollinator populations at risk, I hope to share these seeds next spring with friends, family & community.

So I wonder:

How is it that we cannot figure out how to feed, shelter & clothe our fellow humans? How is it that we cannot figure out how to be in right relationship with the world that supports us sooooooooo abundantly (21 SEEDS!!!) & unconditionally?

These questions return to me again & again as I’m faced with the disconnect between our society’s scarcity mindset … & the absolute ABUNDANCE of Nature’s way of doing & being.

We are out of sync. We have forgotten.

Yet we can remember.

How are YOU re-membering your own abundance? whether it be food, material goods, financial savings … or your wealth of creativity, ideas, talent, etc?

What are your 21 seeds?

And when you realize what you have … is there abundance to share? Without condition or expectation?

I think most of us have 21,000 seeds in us … that we are either afraid or uncertain how to share. Now’s the time to figure that out, though. You’ve got something the world needs … whether it benefits one person or one thousand people. You can make a difference.

How will you, how will I, how will we follow Nature’s lead & abundantly share from our internal & external stores … no matter how small, like these unripe watermelons … our small efforts will yield 21-fold.

I’d love to hear your thoughts … drop a comment or email me at erica.seaverengel@gmail.com.

Permission to Modify

You can now LISTEN to this blog post HERE.

I hear myself constantly say in class, “well, you could do it this way … or this way … or this way … ” And I’ve thought, maybe I should just state ONE way & be done with it — the class would go faster, I’d talk less, it’d be more efficient, etc. etc. etc.

I was thinking about this constant “permission to modify” today in class as I gave about 3 variations on a posture … & I as I observed folks moving into their posture, there were like 6 different variations in the room!

And it was amazing.

When I’m “teaching,” I’m never just teaching … I’m learning every second of the class. I’m a student. And I learned today (& every day) that it’s pretty damn cool to see people practicing THEIR practice … not doing what I say for it’s own sake, but making their Yoga their own.

I also constantly remind myself & others to modify/vary/adjust postures & techniques because in my own life I grew up & still work with my own perfectionist tendencies. I grew up telling myself, “Well, if that’s how the teacher says to do it, I’m going to do it that way x100 (or I’m going to do it my own way … and BETTER).” Or more often I’m competing with myself, trying to get to some “ideal” that probably doesn’t even exist.

I’ve heard it said that yoga practice allows us to see what we’re working with off our mat / cushion. What we learn on our mat, we then take out into the world.

What I’ve learned through my 13-year yoga practice is that my own perfectionist tendencies off the mat have resulted in burnout, injury, or ignoring my own body/mind’s needs in order to get to some arbitrary goal.

I think there’s a natural human tendency to go with the crowd, do what others are doing, even to our own detriment — & that tendency can happen in yoga spaces too.* Sometimes we get the idea that there’s a certain way to do sun salutations, there’s a certain placement for your feet in warrior 2, there’s a certain way you place you fold your hands in meditation, etc. etc. And yes, there are alignment cues for safety reasons, there are body part placements for energetic reasons … & yet when we GET CAUGHT UP in those particulars too much … well … we can lose the whole point of Yoga, which is to come home to ourselves & that inner divinity that KNOWS & knows that it knows.

And often our inner knowing is just whispering, “Give yourself a break. Seriously. You’re doing fine. You’re doing GREAT, actually. You don’t NEED to do more, be more, have more. You’re already enough. Just as you are.”

In group classes or private sessions, I continue to give permission to modify or adjust the practice to fit you today at this time. Not that you need permission! Yet sometimes our minds just need that little nudge to remember why we’re doing Yoga in the first place — hey, remember to listen to your body … hey, remember to breathe … hey, take it easy here, it’s ok.

So if you, like me, need to be reminded every so often that it’s perfectly perfect to modify, intensify, vary or adjust your yoga practice to meet your needs that day … Here’s your permission slip. No expiration date.

*This is why I love home practice. No eyes on me, no looking at other folks, just me practicing with the teacher and doing my thing. Try an online class.

Begin Again

My Yoga Nidra partner … UP CLOSE & PERSONAL MUCH?! 🤣

I’ve lapsed in all of my Yoga practices the last few months … we moved to a new house, I spent what would be her last days with my beloved Grandma, and the world seems to be speeding up to an inhuman pace again …

So, Asana practice – nope. Pranayama practice – nope. Meditation – nope. Study – nope. Eating regular, homemade meals – nope. Yoga Nidra – nope. Morning and evening routines – kinda.

I’ll testify — jumping ship from my routines and practices was eye-opening. I could keep it together for a while, longer than I expected, actually (my husband might disagree 😉). But my sleep was off. My energy rollercoaster — what will I feel today, energized or totally wasted? The culmination — I had a full-on panic attack while driving through Chicago at 11pm in the rain (to get to my grandma) … got to pull over for an hour to calm my shit down.

I suppose it was a good experiment in what NOT to do 😉.

The spectrum of Yoga practices has greatly supported my journey so far … mentally, physically, emotionally. I have a long way to go (maybe lifetimes).

Maybe you have Yoga — maybe a different system supports you. Whatever it is that works for you, keep it up … and if, like me, you jump off for a while … pause, notice, make a choice.

I’m so grateful to my teacher, Luvena Rangel @curvyyogime for her Yoga Sutra Study Group. I’ve been in the deep mental inertia for months … her sharing of the yoga teachings combines staying close to the tradition (reminding me I gotta practice) and expressing grace for our modern situations (stress, the unexpected, etc).

So, I’m getting back to my practices, and trying to give myself grace. Begin again.

Tortilla has always known these things 😉. He’s always practicing and letting go. He’s ready to go at a moment’s notice, he finds joy right where he is, he rests when he’s tired, he eats when he’s hungry (wait, he’s always hungry), he shows endless love & companionship.

Anyway, back to Yoga Nidra.

If you’re new to Yoga Nidra, please join me in a class soon. Each class ends with a short Yoga Nidra practice to restore / rejuvenate. See you soon.

#himalayantradition

Spring Equinox

Happy Spring Equinox!
🌒
From the winter garden
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These little ones have been tucked away all winter under the hoophouse, and honestly didn’t think the November sprouts would survive since the seeds are a few years old … yet last week’s warmer weather woke them up! Mother Nature is pretty amazing.
🌧️
Thankful for the moon returning, the early (!) morning robin songs, and the soft rain today. Sounds & smells like Spring.
🎂
Today is my Grandma’s 89th birthday. Today is the day @thejimengel & I receive our 2nd 💉 … Today we may be closer to seeing my family again. Today is the beginning of Spring. I am no optimist … and I am hopeful.

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#hathayoga #yogaeveryday #morethanasana #garden #wintergarden #springequinox #moonrise
#happybirthday #covidvacccine #hopefortheday

Fulfillment – What is Enough?

I continue with this word Fulfillment — this weekend I took part in a virtual Tea Meditation with Sooz at Being Tea. If you love tea (like I do) & want to dive deeper, I highly recommend Sooz’s offerings. I was gifted a membership by Jim’s parents … & have since enjoyed slow Saturday / Sunday mornings with tea. 

You’ll see below a beautiful deep green High Mountain Oolong (top), 2 gorgeous hawks on the trail (taken with my phone, soooo … can you see them?), & a Jasmine Winter Snow Green Tea (bottom, I wish you could SMELL this tea!). 

The tea meditation theme last month revolved around the question: What is enough?

I’m pondering this question in yoga practice in February – maybe you will join me – What is “enough” in a posture? a breath? effort? 

If you’re seeking what your “enough” is in this mid-winter time, I hope you’ll join one of our online group classes this month, or choose a class on YouTube! If you’re interested in in-person or online private sessions, please email or call me.

Can’t wait to see you! Check class schedule.

What is enough? 

I recently finished a book my sister-in-law, Jill, gifted me a while back — Reshma Saujani’s Brave, Not Perfect. I was skeptical … & yet came away from the book with new insights into my own life as a perfectionist … & that there’s still plenty of time for me to find new ways to be brave, not perfect. I’m asking, “Where am I seeking perfection, instead of asking the brave question, ‘Hey, what’s enough here?'”

What I’m reading, listening to, watching:
Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, by Dr. Claudia Welch
Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Virtual Conference, PASA
Personalize Your Yoga Practice, 3-Day Masterclass with Monica Bright

Fulfillment

What images come to mind when you see this word? On a scale of 1 to 10, how “fulfilled” would you say you are feeling today? No judgment, just the first thoughts that come to your mind …

Last week Jim, I & our boys took an opportunity to get away to a little cabin in the woods. Literally like 20 minutes from our house … yet we felt worlds away from our day-to-day. Our days were “filled” with morning meditation, reads, breakfast & hot beverages … snacks & late morning walks with the dogs … maybe a workout or yoga … late lunch, making a fire, naps & more reading … maybe another walk with the dogs … dinner, stoking the fire, & more reading (maybe a beer for Jim & a little HGTV for me 😉 ).

(BTW that is a HOMEMADE marshmallow in that homemade hot chocolate — made by Jim’s cousin, Amanda, who has become our official marshmallow provider from this day forward. Hands down.)

After 7 days of this packed schedule, we drove back the 20 minutes to our house feeling pretty fulfilled.

I realized over & over this week that fulfillment is so readily available & terribly elusive at the same time. At least for me. I can get pretty down about what I don’t have, who I’m not, where I’m lacking. & I can also find such fulfillment & completeness in the simple experience of nature (we watched 2 deer meander along the hillside across from our cabin one evening), a delicious meal (Jim always cooks delicious meals!), & the devotion of Baxter & Tortilla.

I also realize I’m privileged to have the ability, the resources & the support (thank you to my employer, 4-H … thank you to our friends, Sue & Bob, for the cabin … thank you to Jim’s employer, St. Peter’s, for granting vacation time …) to get away for a bit, to take a reprieve, to refill & rejuvenate. How much better, kinder, & simply more healthy our communities would be if we granted each other time away from it all.

What does “fulfillment” look like for you? It may be similar or quite different from what I described above — I know some folks would tear their hair out sitting in a cabin for a week of quiet, haha! & that’s perfectly legit! My point is to reflect on what fills you up … & find little or big ways to make it happen.

“We need what you got,” says artist Jesse Peterson of Let’s Make Art. The world needs your kindness, your full presence, your gifts, your light. So do what you need to do to replenish & rejuvenate … even if it’s one mindful breath in your closet away from the madness.

Back in October, I listened to senior teacher Judy Moulton of The Himalayan Institute speak on fulfillment & freedom. Take a listen & let me know what you think … how could Judy’s reflection on fulfillment inform your yoga practice?

I look forward to practicing with you again soon — for now we are cultivating our home practices by gathering virtually. Yet soon enough we will look forward to greeting each other in-person again. Thank you for practicing ahimsa, non-harming, in your thoughts, words & actions as we continue to care for our community in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter HERE for yoga updates, inspiration … & ridiculous amounts of dog pictures.

Thank you to all of my teachers, past & present, for your wisdom, generosity & strength. May my own teaching honor & authentically transmit the teachings & practices of Yoga in the Himalayan Tradition.

Create Your Home Practice Space

I can’t recall if I was walking through an airport or a store, but several years ago I was stopped in my tracks by a certain smell.

I couldn’t verbalize or explain why at the moment, yet the smell made my heart smile. That inner joy stayed with me the rest of the day.

Later, the event came back to me & I wondered, ‘Where have I smelled that before?’ It took me a while, yet the connection was finally made — my grandma’s perfume.

When I was growing up, we’d visit my grandparents once a year, in the summer. My dad carried us into the conversion van (yep, fold out bed & swivel passenger chairs – SWEET) at midnight, & would drive us 12 hours from NE Oklahoma to northern Illinois, so we’d make it to my grandparents’ house for the afternoon & following week. My younger brother & I would pull out the 5,000 piece puzzle that would be a fixture on the screened-in porch for the week. We’d get out the slip-n-slide & ruin my grandparents’ perfectly manicured grass. We’d catch fireflies in mason jars for our nightlight near the bed — & we’d fight over who had to sleep in the bed nearest the scary attic door upstairs (evil elves, you know).

And my grandma always wore the same perfume. I didn’t realize it was perfume til decades later; I just thought that’s how Grandma smelled =).

It’s interesting to me now, because I have been averse to most commercial perfumes all my life to this day. Walking past the perfume counters at a department store (which I avoid if at all possible anyway, ha!) has always been a nightmare.

Talking with Grandma recently about this, it seems I take after her: Grandma hates perfume too! The only one she’d wear is called Ciara:

Studies have shown that our sense of smell triggers memories/emotions much more quickly & strongly than our sense of sight. A study from 2015 explains how our sense of smell is connected to our limbic system, a much “older” part of the brain, so to speak, than our prefrontal cortex which develops over our childhood & young adult years … & how smells can affect our mindset, emotions & how we make it through our days. I encourage you to check out the study & see what resonates with you.

Taking this concept into our home practice space — how can we use scent to cultivate a sense of sacred space around our yoga practice? What do you want to FEEL before, during, after your home practice? A sense of ease? strength? determination? calm? happiness? … there are so many options, & your desired feeling may change from day to day depending on your body, schedule, projects, responsibilities, unforeseen circumstances, etc.

While I’m not much into perfume, essential oils, certain types of incense, & / or candles (used with fire safety in mind) evoke certain positive feelings for me. You’ll find a ton of suggestions by doing a simple online search — yet you’ll want to use your own intuition & inner knowing to know what scents are right for you. For example, lavender (the quintessential “relaxing” scent) evokes a sense of calm for some people — for others, instant headache! And while some scents can empower you, the same scent might trigger a traumatic memory for someone else. (I’ve started to shy away from diffusing scents in a community yoga space unless I truly know the group I’m working with, or have advertised that the class/workshop involves essential oils.)

One other caveat: If you have pets, please do your research on your fave essential oils before diffusing. Here’s an introductory article from Doterra, yet make sure to also do your own research & check with your vet.

Hopefully you’re getting more & more inspiration for your home practice space – from clearing the clutter to adding inviting textures to incorporating your favorite smells =). I look forward to hearing from you — share your home practice space here or tag me on Instagram or Facebook with a picture if you’re game!

See you online soon for home practice!

Create Your Home Practice Space

Mama’s pillow makes naps better.

Baxter had another episode last night – seemingly out of nowhere he got wide-eyed, shaky and started panting. He ate, peed, and pooped just fine (info you probably didn’t need, but there you go) … & then ran up to his kennel & didn’t want to leave.

This has happened twice before in the last couple years, and after x-rays & blood work (which show he’s pretty healthy for 12+ years old), weeks of rest & medication … We thought we’d try what he wanted — to be in his safe place with us close by for a while.

He did eventually calm (sidenote: Jim gave him a CBD biscuit, which probably helped) & we all slept through the night.

He woke up with seemingly more spunk, ate chicken / rice with enthusiasm (hoping to calm his tummy), & another successful bathroom break.

He’s been extra snuggly this morning, wanting to be right in my lap … So my yoga practice happened after about 30 minutes of holding him.

He has a bed right beside me, & finally settled there. I covered him with a blanket & gave home my pillow … He’s been snoozing for an hour … much-needed rest for our old boy.

What does Baxter’s story have to do with creating your home practice space?

When we are feeling frazzled, dull, or otherwise in need of recalibration … our primitive brains seek safe space. This is nothing to be ashamed of, & in fact if we pay attention to our inner knowing, we may get just be practicing Yoga — or the calming of the fluctuations of the mind (Yoga Sutra 1.2)

As mentioned in a previous post on this home practice space topic, the goal is to create a space (even if it’s portable) that you will WANT to be in! That calls to your overspent mind & body.

So today, I invite you to gather the props & textures that will make your space appealing for rest. Yes, maybe you’ll practice asana, or postures … so have your chair, blocks, straps, and/or bolster. Maybe you’ll do an invigorating breath practice or a deep meditation, so have a cushion / chair to give ease to your spine & allow for full breath.

Yet, especially during these times of increased stress & trauma collectively … the holidays, different schedules, a raging pandemic, political rebalancing, potential personal/family security concerns … our yoga practice can be a refuge for REST.

Above all, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the asana should have 2 qualities: sthira & sukkha, or stability & ease. The point that ANY posture has these 2 qualities is a subject for another time (ever observed yourself or someone else muscle their way into a pose, foregoing any form of smooth breath or ease? just so the ego can say “I did it” … ? I’m guilty, for sure. I digress.)

So, back to your home practice space. Again, nothing fancy necessary. The Western culture mindset would have us believe we need a zen-like room in our home with the perfect silence, the perfect mat or the perfect color scheme. Nonsense.

All Baxter needed was Mama’s favorite pillow to enjoy rest.

So, gather the tools & textures around you that promote YOUR ability to rest deeply at the end of your Yoga practice. These tools may include blankets, cushions, eye pillows, extra layers of clothing / socks. When we rest, we want our bodies to maintain a comfortable temperature, so that our nervous system can be soothed, & our body/mind/spirit rejuvenated.

Rest may include a guided relaxation, journaling, a cup of tea enjoyed mindfully. Allow your body/mind/spirit to absorb the effects of your practice before moving into the world.

I hope my musings encourage you to continue creating your home practice space – a place that calls you to re-energize, replenish & REST. 🙏🏼