Sunday, December 6, 2009

Balancing Dualities: Iyengar Erotica

My body and my spiritual temperament have always been watery, mutable, sensual, earthy. I am a flow Goddess with water as my medicine. I wash away sharp edges and lubricate parched places in the soul. The Vinyasa Yoga practice, from the very beginning, came to me quickly and easily. My Piscean, naturally flexible, Kapha energy flowed in its element through the different asanas with ease and grace. Moving like a dolphin, cutting the water, leaping from one dive into another, my body surged through the yoga practice, swimming, twisting, balancing, bending, ebbing and flowing, a natural match. For months and then years, I practiced this practice, my body’s practice, until one day I was on my mat and realized I wasn’t feeling anything. Warrior poses felt no different than pigeon pose, Scorpion no different than Handstand. With all of this watery energy, I had lost the container of my body. My practice had no bones, no container, no foundation, it was just water sloshing about. This watery energy was also washing over into my orgasmic life affecting the overall quality of prana in my body. It was showing up in my orgasms, or lack there-of - unattainable, watered-down, wishy-washy. Getting into the poses didn’t mean anything to me, they were simply shapes my body was copying from memory or a visual reference. I felt nothing from the inside of the pose. I was, quite literally, flopping around in my practice like a fish. Water energy had overtaken my being and I was somehow lost in the element searching for some sort of sensation in my body and finding none.

Frustrated, I spent some time off the mat, began lifting weights, trying to fire up my bogged down energy. And then one day, as fate would have it, on a whim, I stumbled into a yoga studio in midtown and signed up for an Iyengar class. I’d had my beef with Iyengar in the past - pretentious, too masculine, drab practice. I reluctantly rolled out my mat, looking at the stodgy teacher student regalia, this was yoga for nerds class. The teachers were quite asexual with a practicality about the body that speaks more to mathematics than artistry. Like most classes, Iyengar has its own fashion statements and I’m afraid its fallen on hard times, as its probably about as cool as the pocket protector and horn-rimmed glasses of yoga. Students and teachers wear plain crew neck teachers and tight form fitting balloon-leg boxer briefs and I assume at some point in their lives were acquainted with Dungeons and Dragons. Lets just say, the Iyengar outfit will never make the shelf of Lululemon. But all those judgments were soon to be released and a new reality was to take shape in my body that day. The Iyengar practice is thorough, precise, articulate, intelligent, clean. Everything Vinyasa wasn’t. Iyengar teachers move through the body dissecting the anatomy and putting it back together in bite size ways for the body, mind and spirit to integrate. It is a wooden practice, a masculine practice, a disciplined practice that uses intelligence, repetition and discernment. It is also a bondage practice with rope walls, meticulously placed straps, and absurd suspension poses which, coincidently was the exact practice my body needed to rebalance itself. In this fate-guided yoga class that I walked in on, even in the first pose, something shifted in my practice. There was a core energy that became activated in my body. It was Earth and metal and air and fire. Standing in Tadasasna became one of the most orgasmic experiences of my life. I felt the entirety of the inner landscape of my body in a simple opening pose. While my feminine flow Goddess bemoaned this practice from a distance, once she entered in, a rapture unfolded in my body that it had not previously known. The structure and inner architecture of the practice created the container that my flowy, sensuous disposition had been missing. I spontaneously burst into light body orgasms in class, trembling, trying to conceal my ecstatic state. Something about the offerings of these asexual yoga teachers flooded my body with renewed passion and sought after ecstasy. My Yin Flow Goddess in her second wave feminist movement had on a subconscious level rejected the yang, her polarity, as inferior, most likely from the inner state of wounded feminine that all our creative flow Goddesses have suffered from the violence and oppression of the patriarchy. Lucky for me and my flow, we stumbled into just the right practice to balance the inner polarities and dualities of my watery Goddess nature with the architecture and form I had been missing. Dualities heighten our awareness and understanding of the universe both inner and outer. I’ve always been a naturally sensual and orgasmic person. There have also been times where my watery flow and sensual nature have also been thrown out of balance with an over excess of like energy. Here in the Iyengar yoga practice was the balance my body needed. My inner flow Goddess arrived even more powerfully complimented by her counterpart Purusha to Prakrati, masculine to feminine, form to formless, bondage to liberation. In the extremes of our polarities comes balance and liberation.

I began the Iyengar practice about two years ago to compliment my own flow practice and it has been a staple in my life ever since. When I drift away from it, I feel the side-effects not just in my physical body, but also in my creative projects, my relationships, my communication with people, even in my spirit. Things become sloppier, less focused. But when I maintain a balance of my Yin Flow Goddess with the discipline and intelligence of the masculine Iyengar practice, my creativity heightens and my inner Goddess roars forth with even more power and creative orgasmic energy. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for the discipline and commitment it takes to teach an Iyengar practice, undergoing a minimum two year training and then mentoring for years with senior teachers. It is a true practice of discipline and one that assists me in bringing a greater source of integrity and awareness to my creative and my orgasmic life. And let this be known, I have a crush on everyone of my Iyengar teachers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reflections on the Dark Goddess

Reflections on the Dark Goddess

This past Monday, while teaching the first part in a series of sensual yin yoga classes, the Dark Goddess reared her head and moved through my body and my being. She doesn’t come often, but when she does I brace myself and surrender fully to her fury. A perspective student had been calling incessantly all day from a blocked number, for which I have a no-tolerance, no-answer policy. The same person left me lengthy phone messages and followed up with inappropriate emails. I clued in later that this person had been harassing another practitioner several months ago and was asked to not attend workshops because of their stalkerazzi behavior. After incessant repeat calling from a blocked number, I eventually turned off my phone for the last hour up until the yoga class I was teaching that evening.

At 7:30 pm, as usual, I locked the doors to the temple and nestled in with my students for a sensual yin yoga class in the buff. After creating safe space, moving through a disrobing ceremony and into some basic yin yoga poses there was a ring at the doorbell. There is a VERY clear policy on our website and in our welcome letter that states there is no late entry to class. Ring,ring, knock,knock. I slipped to the back of the room unlocked the door poked my head around and told the man on the other side of the door that class was closed and relocked the door. I opened my mouth to instruct the next sequence when I hear, ring,ring. RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING. I drop the class down into child’s pose. Grab my clothes from the front of the room, dress, and go to the back. As I unlocked the door, I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up and rush move through my body that I can only assume would be similar to the first time a person tries heroine. My animal self moves to the surface of my consciousness and I feel the Dark Goddess awaken from the void of my inner universe and activate in every cell of my body. I fling the door open and I can only equate what happened next to the raw instinct a mother lion feels when protecting her cubs and a predator feels when it slaughters its prey. The verbal and energetic attack I unleashed was beyond morality, right or wrong doing, something simply opened up in me and took over. I embodied the curse of the witch, the primal protection of a mother for her cubs, the feeling a predator gets when it tears that first still living piece of flesh from its supper.

The stalker student who disrupted my entire day was annoying, but when it came to jeopardizing my class and my students journey and their safety, students who are trusting me to hold safe space for them in what is already a vulnerable practice, the Dark Goddess rose.

In our lives, most of us only really ever catch glimpses of Dark Goddess energy. Her power and wrath are often misunderstood and subsequently have been repressed and feared for as long as we could give voice to what she was. A common misunderstanding is that she is cruelty or hate. She cannot survive in either cruelty or hate for those stem from unconsciousness and separation. She is a ferocious kind of love what Buddhists call fierce compassion. She is unpredictable, formidable, wild and unforgiving. She lives like nature, without anything as superficial as morality or common niceties. She is the elements in their fury, taking lives, destroying homes leaving her mark without grace or regret. We cannot begin to understand her, only respect and accept her for what she is. Her power is one so ancient that when she activates in our system, even in a conscious way, we often wish her away with the "I don't normally act like that, I don't know what came over me" syndrome talking away our power and animal instincts. But the destiny of the Dark Goddess is that she will always return. She lives in each of us and we catch only glimpses of her in our lives in moments of ruthless honesty, ferocious compassion, adrenaline infused protection and the summoning of the true revolutionary warrior spirit.

I invite you to ask yourself – How does the Dark Goddess show up in your life? What activates her? Have you surrendered to her fully? Is there fear that echoes in your system when her power is activated? Where is your judgment about this energy and where is the freedom in living in the energy consciously?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jai Ganesha: The Power of Mantra

The Power of Mantra: Jai Ganesha!

Like many this Thanksgiving, I found myself making the annual pilgrimage to visit my biological family. My second day home, I took my father to lunch after he received a transfusion from a new medical procedure he was participating in to assist with his degenerative rheumatoid arthritis. This new treatment involved infusing rat cells into his body so his immune system attacked the rat cells instead of his joints. This launched us into a conversation about animal totem medicine and the rat as a miraculous survivor-based animal and also a sacred vehicle of transport to Lord Ganesha the elephant headed deity.

Later that afternoon, my father and I worked together to assemble some advertising for his HVAC business that was recently hurting due to the temperate weather and the economy. As we were working on the advertisements, my father suddenly gasped and stood straight up and then crumpled over bracing himself on the wall. His leg had cramped up and a shooting pain had overtaken the entire left side of his body, a possible complication from the infusion. Shaking, he braced himself against a wall. I took his hand and began immediately chanting a Ganesh Mantra ‘Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.’ This is a mantra that my spirit defaults to in crisis situations. Chanting over and over aloud, holding my father’s hand, I walked him to his bed and chanted over him moving energy. I slowly repeated the chant inviting my father to repeat it too. After about twenty minutes of chanting, the pain released from his body and the ferocious energy that had previously crippled him moved through and was dissipated. I wrote that mantra down for him and he carried the mantra in his shirt pocket that evening while he taught an HVAC class at the trade school where he works part-time. Anytime pain crept up on him, he chanted the mantra and it subsided. Later that evening, a fellow teacher also approached him about hiring him for a large HVAC job that as a result would support his business that was really feeling the pinch form the economy. My father came home amazed and asked me more questions about Ganesh and I wrote down another mantra for him to try “Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha”

Ganesh has recently become somewhat of a pop-icon in the yoga and new-age movement of the West, and why not? He is often depicted as red with a large, round belly, four arms and an unmistakable elephant head. He’s most commonly hailed as the remover of obstacles and Lord of Success. Who wouldn’t want a red-headed elephant God with a jolly belly removing their obstacles and helping them succeed? A few things about Ganesh: He resides in the root chakra, which is our spiritual center of survival, foundation, tribe, family, basic needs, which is why its useful to chant his mantra for just about anything from a travel blessings, to health, to abundance, to resolving conflict. When I travel, I chant to Ganesh. When the plane takes off and lands safely, Ganesh is my man. When I sprain my ankle, I chant to Ganesh for a speedy recovery. When I began a project, Ganesh’s name is on my lips. I carry totems to him in my house including at the front door, on every altar and even a mini alter in the bathroom, for which I’ve been repeatedly reprimanded by many Hindu students of mine who have visited my temple space. Worried that I may be offending Ganesh with this represenation of him, I chanted and meditated on the placement of this small altar. When I checked in with Ganesh about this I downloaded: "Those earnest and sincere in their worship will always be blessed." He also said that this particular statue and representation very much wanted to be in the bathroom and he felt honored in the way he was being presented in there celebrating the holy body and sensual spirit.

Jai Gnaesha! Jai Ganesha!

A Month of Gratitude

A Month of Gratitude:
On Halloween night, I was walking past a Goddess topped fountain on 5th Ave and 58th St. by Central Park South when I decided to throw a few coins in and make a wish. One of my wishes was that I would always be conscious of and in a state of gratitude for the abundance in my life. This Tuesday, I was in midtown for a lunch and a yoga class before heading to the bank to deposit my 'material abundance' to pay my bills. Finishing my lunch, I left to head to the bank, but something told me to stop in a uesd bookstore right next to where I had lunch. As I walked in, there was a deck of Guardian Angel affirmation cards that for some reason I knew I had to purchase. I picked them up and walked over to the register, reached in my bag to pull out my wallet and realized it was not there. I didn't immediately go into panic as I had another bag to look into where I could have easily put it. Not in there either. My face went flush and hot as I immediatley went into a feeling of vertigo. Disorientation swept over me. How did this happen? What was in there? What credit cards to be cancelled? I excused myself from paying for the angel cards and went back next door to the Cafe. 'My wallet is long gone by now' I thought. All that work. I scanned the crowd at the Asian Bakery where I had just eaten. It was overwhelmingly busy. All was lost. I meekly walked up to one of the eight cahiers running different registers at lunch hour rush. 'Did someone turn in a wallet?' I asked. She looked at me blankely. 'Yeah, right,'I thought, 'in New York City?' 'Oh yes! What color?' she said. In disbelief I stared at her. 'Red, with colored circles,' I said. 'One moment.' She left the counter and went into the back. When she returned, she was holding a wallet. It was mine. I watched her bring it to me. There was no way the huge stack of cash I had was still in there. She placed it in my hands. 'This yours?' she smiled. 'Yes' I said barely audible. My heart beating deep in my chest. I unsnapped the top. Every green bill stacked neaty in its place to pay my November bills was still intact. I sputtered for a moment, tearing. 'Thanks,' I said quietly and walked out. Disoriented I walked next door, bought the angel cards, went to the bank and then came home. A myriad of scenarios raced through my mind that afternoon. When I returned home, I went immediately to meditate and tap into Source Wisdom. When asking about what the universe was trying to teach me about this experience, I heard in reply 'Isis, this is what you asked for. To be conscious of and in a state of gratitude for the abundance in your life.' I jolted out of my meditaiton with a hearty laugh.

Thank you, Thank you for these teachings, this gratitude and this abundance.

Let us celebrate with Gratitude this Month:
What are you grateful for, materially and spiritually? Are you grateful for your body? For all it does for you everyday? How do you express gratitude towards your body? Through self-pleasuring, through yoga, through consicous eating, through education through spiritual nourishment? What reltionships are you grateful for and how are you expressing your gratitude in them? When prayers are answered or intentions manifest, do you openly express thanks? I invite you to take a moment each morning before you begin your day to contemplate gratitude.

In Love and Gratitude for you!
ISIS Phoenix

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Love Letter to Naked Yoga & it's Community

I’ve been perusing my computer today, moving through old photo shoots of when I first began Naked Yoga and dared to bare my asana on high-rise buildings, on Sandy-Hook Beach, on a third story roof in the meat-packing district, all in the name of freedom, celebration and love. As I sifted through over three years of old photos, I was shocked at my very visceral response to them. Some, quite literally took my breath away. I remember at one time, being afraid to look at the photos of me doing yoga naked, hiding them deep in the belly of the hard drive on my computer. But today, something made me look and when I did, I saw such unmistakable beauty present in this practice that I had been previously unavailable to fully witness.

Naked yoga has been one of the most beautiful and self-sustaining practices of my life. As a woman holding space for this practice, naked yoga, more than anything else, has assisted me in moving through the body-image bullshit that has accumulated throughout my life. This practice drops me into one-ness with my body, releasing the bully of the mind the and the judgment of the ego. The naked yoga practice has been a constant in my life for the past three and a half years, a flowering perennial that continues to bloom, sustain and resurrect itself each year. Of course when I brought my movement to NYC, I was sure I was the first to trail blaze this movement. But sadly, I’m reminded there is no original work, there were already a few naked yoga circles going in NYC. One was a men’s group Hot Nude Yoga in Chelsea caterings to primarily gay and bisexual men, another was in Brooklyn, male run and male attended but allowed women and then there was a group already led by a woman Britt McMurray who had taken over naked yoga classes from a woman named Wendy Tremaine. I collaborated with Britt for a short time until she left the practice entirely and shortly after that I birthed Phoenix Temple to hold ongoing classes for Naked Yoga.

Not only has this practice helped heal my own shame I’ve felt over my body, but it’s made me more at ease in the world. I find there are so many more layers I have to work through when I attend a clothed yoga class – not just layers of clothing but also of karma keeping me both separate from the experience, the group and the yoga.

This practice has been so dear to me and the press has been forth coming and also, surprisingly filled with grace. I am amazed at how this practice transforms lives. Over the past three and a half years, there has been a shocking lack of ill-intentioned people showing up in my Temple Space and to the practice. Most are earnest, nervous, with a desire and longing to continue to unravel their own societal shame conditioning, reaching for a moment of stillness and freedom in the galloping pace of New York City. Each time, I feel myself go into contraction around a pose in class; ‘ oh my god, my ass is in the air, and I think I have a hemorrhoid from this cleanse I’ve been doing’ I Breathe, Release and Surrenders. Ahhh. This practice has been my lifeblood. It is always expanding, changing, growing and I love it.

Gratitude and love to the community who has shown up to this practice, from those who have made up the core of our community, to those teaching it in other communities and those who have previously taught and have passed on the torch to the next generation, to the women who dare to come to class or dare to think about coming to class, to those who simply practice in their living rooms and to those who google naked yoga wanting to see naked chicks in exotic poses and who find this and are transformed, Thank you. Thank you for daring, for loving, for being.

ISIS Phoenix – Founder Naked Yoga NYC

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Note on the Autumn Equinox

Balancing of the Fall Equinox
The fall Equinox has arrived as we bid the last day of summer farewell. The lunar and solar energies are in the rare position of perfect balance where day and night, masculine and feminine, stand in equillibrium to one and other. Passing through Central Park yesterday, I noticed the first visual changes in nature's transformation as clumps of yellow leaves appreaed on a handful of trees. In Earth-based traditions, this was a time of second Harvest, moving to the fields for a second time to prepare ourselves for a journey into a colder season and transition into growing darkness.

It hearlds Persepohone's return to the under world, a time of introspection where our planet begins to move into dominance of darkness. This myth often characterizes Persephone as a helpless vrgin maiden held against her will by a dark God Hades as her mother pines for her return on Earth, letting the vast abundance of the earth go to seed while she searches and mourns for her abducted daughter. Before traditional Greek myth was reinterpreted with this victim consciousness, another perception on this transition was Persephone descending at will to persure her courtship and raputre in the dance of darkness, finding enlightenment and luminosity in a conscious descent into the under wrold where balance can occur within all things. Today we hover in a point of balance, where night and dark are at equillibrium, and our inner state, reflected by our outer is preparing for descent into the mystery teachings of the divine feminine. At this time of second Harvest, we are in essence, packing our bags, gathering our supplies for the descent. What resources do we need to gather for this journey into the underworld and dark half of the year? Where do our inner worlds and outer worlds require balancing in this moment in time? Who is awaiting us in this long descent? What part of ourselves are we preparing to cultivate in the dark belly of the Earth?

The mysteries are continuing to unfold as we move through a global healing of our sacred sexual energies on the planet. Pleasure, love, wholeness are becoming more accessible to us, and we must equally look at our own darkness in this dance of pleasure, rapture and love.

I look forward to sharing and celebrating in this Autumnal moment of balance with you!

Love & Blessings,
ISIS - Centerholder of Phoenix Temple

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Shaman's Perception on Earth's Essential Oils

Essential oils are the immune system and life force energy of the plant. The aromatic structure triggers something deep within the ancient brain returning us to a state of healing and Earth connection on a cellular level. While there are many compounds in herbs and their natural occurring essential oils that heal, it is the aromatic essence of the plant that can deliver us to a level of healing on an emotional, spiritual and physical level.

Ancient medicine stories, speak of an Earth that provides a remedy for every ailment within Herself, much like natural function of the human body, able to protect itself from numerous illnesses and diseases throughout its lifetime. Our body is a mirror of the Earth body. The immune systems of the plant bodies on Earth, mirror the immune systems of the human body that exist on her, making human immune systems and plant immune systems quite compatible with each other. It’s nature’s way of protecting her children – within each sickness lies the cure. In tribal cultures, shamans and medicine women spoke and meditated with the Earth and its plant lives, asking for guidance around Her medicine. The plants responded and today grow countless plant remedies for medicine and healing.

Medicinal plants have been used for centuries for healing purposes, perhaps longer than even we know. There are accounts of use of herbal remedies and plant medicine as far back as Neolithic and Paleolithic times thru Egypt, Rome, Greece, a wisdom that was so readily available to us but which most of humanity has briefly forgotten due to our unconscious disconnection with the planet.

During many fear driven times on our Earth, those that could commune with Nature and receive plant wisdom were subjects of persecution - which led to punishment ranging from intuitive intolerance to punishment by death which was much seen during the time of witch trials. Our intuitive abilities naturally shut down during these times, going into disconnect from Earth wisdom and our natural connection to her healing energy and information. We are steadily recovering. In fact, during times of great oppression which is also the most likely time for pandemics to surface, natural and holistic medicine traditions have always spiraled back around. The wisdom may go to sleep for short periods of time, but is always reawakened when we are ready to receive it.

The link below is a beautiful audio recording of David Crowe's take on the Dharma or role of healing with essential oils. Welcome back this healing wisdom with me.

Free Audio Download: Dharma of Essential Oils and The Flowering of Spiritual Culture