A post written by one of our regular, long-time practitioners who has been a valued part of our Kula & community! 

Little Altars Everywhere

by Robin

Little altars everywhere is a guiding concept for my interior design, both in the physical and metaphysical realms.  I am a long time practitioner of yoga.  I love that it is a practice.  I practice yoga.  I gain mastery.  I practice. I shed.  I practice. I grow. I practice. I simplify and the complex becomes achievable. I breathe in.  I practice. I breathe out.

Yoga comes from a root word that means to join.  There is a close relationship between the words yoga and yoking.  I love the visual of oxen yoked and the slow steady power that is constrained, directed, and focused as they work in tandem under skilled direction. 

As I practice yoga, I learn about interconnectedness and energy.  I yoke my attention to my breath and to my effort.  I am learning to bring mind, body, and soul together to skillfully discern. I aim to proceed with embodied thoughtful compassion.  I have glimpses of weightlessness.  I have moments of clarity.  I feel the interior expansiveness of my body in brand new ways that connect me to ancient knowing.  A lot happens in my life because of my yoga practice.  I am learning to influence the how of my living. It’s a lot to keep in mind some days.  It can be tricky to step out of habitual ways of being.  It requires a deep honesty to keep questing for truth, to be at home in discomfort, to explore the edges, to practice living with a yogic integrity.

My time on my mat makes me a better person.  I used to take classes once a week, then twice, now three a week is my routine and I am building a home practice of meditation, asana, and pranayama.  Forrest Yoga illuminates my path at this point in my journey. My teachers have encouraged me to practice on my own, outside of class. I have also been urged to also take it off the mat.  I have been supported both by friends and also in friendly encounters with strangers in growing this inclination to explore incorporating what I learn on the mat in class into both my home practice and my everyday being.

I had a crucial and influential teacher who challenged me in many ways, especially around accountability.  Gianna Carotenuto pushed me to see myself as strong and complete.  She taught me my home practice could be grown by doing just my favorite things on my mat at home. She challenged me to see that there is room in my home for both me and my work. So much of my life at that time was tied up in caring for others and keeping various children as safe and engaged as possible.  I put a sweet little toy frog in my bathroom by my toothbrush to remind me to take the leap. When I told her about it, she replied, “That is an altar.”  She had me tell my classmates about it later and we began to notice other touchstones and reminders we have in our lives and homes.

The power of imbuing objects with psychic power and inviting energy and intention through their presence in our lives is not uncommon.  Wedding rings.  Great grandma’s holiday candle holder.  Baby’s first shoes. Bringing fresh cut flowers into our homes. 

I like to think of several flavors of altars, influenced by learning I received from Rev Angel Kyodo Williams.  She is a Buddhist teacher, priest, author and activist, working for radical liberation.  She taught a grounding practice that she prescribed to be performed in three ways.  I have come to regard little altars in the three similar ways.  There are three Rs: regular, ritual, and random, that can be used to practice and strengthen grounding in presence. Regular practice describes a practice that is triggered by external factors like choosing to ground when crossing a threshold, or taking a complete deep breath at every red light.  Ritual practice describes a more formal and self-conscious practice, maybe focusing on the honing or polishing of a certain aspect of the grounding practice.  I am working on an energetic flow that is more fluid and maintains optimum viscosity.  I do this on my cushion.  And the third facet of this grounding practice is random.  Whenever you think of it, do it.  Ground in presence, strive for and explore 360 degree presence.

In my work with little altars everywhere, I have found three Cs: care, create, and revealed (crack).

Care for existing altars. Touch the mezuzah, light the candle, bring the flowers.  You may also create an altar.  It can be small like my little green frog or ornate like a shrine for a beloved; it may be subtle or obvious; created in joy or erected for supplication; crafted for protection, or as an invitation; an embodiment of celebration or thanksgiving.

There is an art to learning to ask with specificity for the kernel of most truth in your desire.  Creating an altar structures this process by requiring an attunement to details and specificity that clarifies desire and enhances attraction.  An act of creation is no small gesture. Merely stack a few rocks, arrange those potted plants just so, and make it smell and look good.  Focus on gratitude and ground when you care for these spots. 

If prayer is a concentration of positive thoughts, then altars are ways to amplify and focus thoughts or energy.  We can tinker with our altars and view them as experimental microcosms for some larger energetic fields.  We can invite more robust understandings. What is the soundtrack to this beauty?  Play that. Journal about it. Record images, both representational and abstract.  Play with themes of color and pattern.  Find a poem or phrase to include.

The third, most mischievous, is the altar revealed (crack). Sometimes there’s a blue jay’s feather in your path.  Or maybe you find a perfect sitting rock at the beach. Or a corner of your yard beckons you. I recently discovered I had inadvertently recorded 5-6 images over the course of two years from almost the exact same spot in my backyard. I came to realize that there is an access point for me there.  I like to lie back and look up, noticing there, at that spot, the way the branches from two different trees move in the same wind.  My sky altar revealed. 

Small children are excellent detectors of small altars revealed.  Take a walk with a wee one and see what they are drawn to.  Notice what they notice. See what may be revealed about your world and your place in it.

In my experience, being more attuned allows me to perceive more messaging in the world around me.  Altars can be cared for, be created, and be revealed. For me, it is a practice of noting and sometimes studying what is occupying or attracting my attention. This attention can be cultivated with an interior focus, too. I have areas within my body that are more full of information than others.  Areas that call to be noticed and other areas within that are cloaked and secretive. My current teacher, Rosalie Battah, encourages us, rather than wincing or tensing, to receive the information we find in ourselves. She urges us to move away from story, and to go into feeling and learn what we can.

This practice is not for wimps or the fainthearted.

I have found in my interior landscape, I also tend to accumulate little altars, be they cared for, created, or revealed (crack). In my areas that are full of information, I often find myself constructing little stations to help me.  Beneath my right shoulder blade and circling around my collarbones, there is a darkness.  My breath powers light that I am learning to illuminate and radiate there.  That feels like an internal altar.  I have a sticky spot at the insertion of my hip flexors. My breath is Snoqualmie Falls, broad and powerful, flushing out the stagnation.  The arches of my feet are often in need of celebration. Caring for, creating, and discovering these internal altars are a way for me to embody my practice with specificity.  They are also useful data collection tools as I learn to better calibrate my energy.

Altars, their creation, discovery, and care are all tools for consciousness and focus.  Both on and off the mat, both within and without my body, I find that as I practice care, more connection follows.  I am careful with my altars, the small and grand gestures of recognition, appreciation, and attraction I recognize and connect with. I am reminded to be conscious of where, how, and why I am spending my energy and directing my attention.  I encourage you to notice how you reinforce intentions, and remember your direction.  How do you find your path and practice gratitude?  Maybe light a candle, have a glass of water, or lie on the ground.  Put a rock on your bedside table, recognize that feather and stone collection, that bunch of dried flowers, that corner of the shelf, that little green frog; those may be your altars already, just waiting to be recognized, cared for, and enhanced.

Introducing: Kula's 2018 Spring 30-day Yoga Challenge!

We're happy to announce Kula's new, 2018 Spring 30-day yoga challenge! Join us for a month of yoga, and start your spring off on the right foot!! Participants who complete 21 days of yoga during the month of March will be entered to win 1 month of free yoga at Kula Movement! A variety of fabulous prizes will also be awarded to others who complete the challenge! More information about signups will be coming soon.

Introducing: New Kula Massage Therapist

We are happy to announce that Mike Ritter, LMT, has joined the Kula Movement team! Mike is highly qualified, eager to serve the community, and ready to see patients Wed - Sat. You can book an appointment by calling 206-972-2999 or going to www.kulamovement.com/massage

Michael Ritter, LMT

Mike became a massage therapist through his passion for endurance sports and the benefits soft tissue manipulation can have on performance, overall wellness, injury prevention and recovery. He graduated from the Northwest Academy for the Healing Arts massage program, which focuses on clinical massage treatment, in 2017.

Mike practices a results focused approach to massage, integrating Swedish, deep tissue, and muscle energy techniques to address each client’s individual needs and goals. Whether you are an athlete looking to improve performance, have pain from a chronic use or an acute injury, such as a car accident, Mike is excited to show you how massage can be a powerful tool in your overall wellness journey.

Free Thanksgiving Day Yoga Class 8-9:30am with Mary Kay

We are so thankful for all of you who make up our Kula Movement community! Whether you have been a part of our family for years or have just joined it, we appreciate you and that you’ve allowed us to be a part of your yoga journey! As a token of gratitude, please join us for a free morning yoga class on Thanksgiving Day, at 8AM with Mary Kay 💕 
Thank you for being a part of our Kula 🙏🏼✨
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We can’t think of a better start to the day - ease out any holiday-planning stress, get in a few twists to make room for second helpings and pie, take a few moments for peace and balance, and truly embrace your body with gratitude!
 

Holiday Schedule November 23-26
Thursday, 8am Vinyasa Yoga w/Mary Kay

Friday, 9:30am Forrest Yoga w/Hope
            12pm Forrest Yoga w/ Ally
            5:45pm Restore and Renew Yin Yoga w/Emily

Saturday, 8am Forrest Yoga w/Rosalie
                 10am Vinyasa Yoga w/Roe

Sunday, 9am Vinyasa w/Mary Kay
              4:30pm Restore and Renew Yin Yoga w/Jessica

Black Friday Sales

Our Black Friday Sales have started early, running through until the end of this week! Stop by the studio for 20% off all clothing, mats, and yoga props.

Transition into Fall with the Help of Medicinal Mushrooms

Transition into Fall with the Help of Medicinal Mushrooms

By Joyful Living | October 10, 2017

As we transition from the activity of Summer to a slower pace in the season of Fall, it is crucial to listen to our body and support our immune system. This transition from Summer to Fall can be especially challenging because of the big temperature change, resulting in more vulnerability to bacteria and viruses in our environment. Often times, we feel the change into Fall with a slight tickle in the throat accompanied with physical and emotional fatigue.

The good news is that there are steps we can take to combat the less welcoming aspects of Fall, so we can focus on the good stuff; cozy sweaters, time indoors with dear friends and family, creative exploration, and delicious stews.  One of my favorite ways to bolster my immune system and transition smoothly to Fall is with medicinal mushrooms!

Medicinal mushrooms have been used throughout human history for their energy and immune boosting effects. In my eyes, if the immune system is working efficiently, we will have the resilience to meet the myriad of viruses and bacteria that we so often come across in the beginning of Fall. What’s more, the support that the body gains from an immune tonic like medicinal mushrooms means that it will be using less energy fighting these pathogens off. That means that you will experience greater overall energy. When we have more energy, we are able to express ourselves in the world and live our lives to our fullest capacities.

Today I would like to give a brief summary of three of my favorite medicinal mushrooms. Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, and Reishi.

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is a shelf fungi that grows prolifically in forests. You can find it in our Pacific Northwest forests, draping itself over tree stumps in all its silvery, shimmering beauty. This is one of my absolute favorite mushrooms to use for immune wellness. Turkey Tail’s claim to fame was in a research study done on breast cancer patients who were undergoing chemotherapy. Results showed that the patients who were taking the turkey tail had enhanced immune function in comparison to those who were given a placebo. I find that daily use of turkey tail provides greater energy, less instances of sickness and a generalized feeling of well being.

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Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a highly medicinal mushroom which can also be found in the Pacific northwest.  This mushroom has a ghostly white color and has an interesting growth pattern which often looks like dangling spines. The amazing thing about Lion’s Mane is that regular consumption of this medicinal has been shown to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) which is critical for the growth, maintenance and  survival of nerve cells in our brain, called neurons. Healthy neurons are sheathed in something called myelin, a fatty tissue which insulates the nerve and allows for the smooth transfer of information in the brain. NGF helps to repair myelin, preventing us from scattered thinking and memory loss. What’s more, Lion’s Mane can help to promote a healthy immune response, lift depression and relieve anxiety.

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Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most celebrated medicinal mushrooms in history. With its glossy shell, and caramely red color, reishi is a treasure to be found in the woods. This mushroom can also be found in the Pacific Northwest! Reishi has a myriad of health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, quell allergies and fight respiratory ailments, increase energy, help the body to fight cancer, and promote a healthy immune response. This is a general tonic that can be safely taken every day and generally just helps our body to function better.

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What do these three mushrooms have in common? All three of these mushrooms are immunomodulators. That means that they will help the body’s immune system come into a place of balance. For those who tend to have overactive immune responses (chronic inflammation, allergies, etc), it will lower the immune response. For those with weaker immune systems, it will help to strengthen the immune response. What sets them apart? Turkey Tail’s special characteristic is its emphasis on immune wellness, Lion’s Mane has an emphasis on brain health, and Reishi supports a healthy blood pressure and fights respiratory ailments. Pick the mushroom that feels right for you and glide into fall with ease and grace :)

Thanks for listening!

Nicole at Joyful Living Acupuncture

Have more questions?  I would love to help!

Schedule an appointment online with me at JoyfulLivingHealthcenter.com

 

Disclaimer: The Author does not provide any medical advice on the Site, and the Information should not be so construed or used. Using, accessing and/or browsing the Site and/or providing personal or medical information to the Author does not create a physician-patient relationship between you and the Author. Nothing contained in the Site is intended to create a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a licensed, trained physician or health professional or to be a substitute for medical advice of a physician or trained health professional licensed in your state. You should not rely on anything contained in the Site, and you should consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health. You hereby agree that you shall not make any health or medical related decision based in whole or in part on anything contained in the Site.

While Authors make every effort to broadcast correct information, we are all still learning.  We will double check all facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art.  One doctor may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting views and information to the best of our knowledge. We welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.  No author takes money from drug, herbal or device companies.  This information is not intended as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others, including but not limited to patients that you are treating.  Consult your TCM practitioner or physician for medical issues that you may be having.  This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the blog.  Under no circumstances shall Joyful Living, Joyful Living practitioners or any guests or contributors to the blog, or any employees, associates, or affiliates of Joyful Living LLC be responsible for damages arising from use of the blog. This blog should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony.  No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast or blog.

New Prenatal Yoga Class Tuesdays, 6:15pm

Prenatal Yoga Tuesdays, 6:15-7:15pm
with Emily Rose

Our Prenatal Yoga classes are open to all levels and taught in a peaceful and calm environment, to support women in their journey of pregnancy. Each class provides postures that aid in, as well as often preventing the common ailments one may experience during pregnancy.

Tuesdays, 6:15 - 7:15p.m. 
Saturdays 12:30 - 1:30p.m.
Drop-in friendly, $18 per class, class passes available