16 December 2009

A Merry Shakti Weekend

I am closing in on my first month in DC and it has been quite an adventure. This past weekend I was invited to teach meditation and pranayama at a local rape crisis center for a Day of Healing event. It was an opportunity for survivors to receive energy work and alternative healing treatment. Among those providing therapeutic services were an acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine specialist, a reiki master and massage therapist. I met an amazing group of strong, beautiful women who were truly dedicated to a path of rehabilitation and reclamation.

After reveling in the blessing and honor of participating in the weekend’s events, I began to reflect on the power of the collective female force. I started thinking about Shakti – that mysterious and powerful divine feminine energy. While I was accustomed to teaching yoga and meditation to classes of students that were largely female, this experience was quite different. On this occasion I was guiding a group of female practitioners who were coming together with the unified intention of healing from serious emotional and physical trauma. As a teacher, it is an intimate and intense task to take on. Initially, I was unsure of my abilities to conduct a meditation in that type of setting. Looking back on that auspicious day, I can confidently state that it was the first time in my years of teaching where I felt a deep and profound energy in the room. It was piercing, yet warm and despite the pain and hardship that I know these women have encountered, there was an immediate embrace and surrender. Those aren’t reactions that come so freely or instantly when teaching a yoga class in a studio. There is quite a bit of resistance and lack of concentration from many students when they come to the mat for the first time or even from seasoned students who either become complacent in their practice or let their egos creep in (we all know it happens…I’m guilty of it).

Within the feminine energy there are opposing forces: Shakti is the creator, associated with goodness and beauty while Kali is the destroyer, who brings torment and turmoil. When we are in balance and reverence of Lady Shakti, she will nourish us with light and abundance. I recently read an article in a spiritual publication that said we are currently in a dark age – a state of Kali Yuga. Our community is experiencing war, recession, poverty, and hardship. In order for the dark cloud to pass, we must regain devotion in Shakti and pray that her energy will once again return to bless us with spiritual and economic wealth. I am certain this past weekend Shakti was alive and kicking at the Day of Healing. I am hopeful that the work we all did generated more peace and compassion in the world…presumably allowing more Shakti to flourish around us.

Interestingly enough, the coordinator of the event kept referring to those of us offering services as healers…...Huh? Me? A “healer”? No way. I knew that yoga could bring healing but I most definitely never considered myself a healer…but then again it was called a “Day of Healing.” I now have a new perspective to help me evolve in my path of teaching, learning and growing. I am thankful for that.

The weekend was full of many wonderful gifts...Shakti blessings. I was able to bring healing to other women and in turn nourish my own spirit. I also had a last minute opportunity to attend a workshop with ashtangi extraordinaire Kino McGregor from Miami Life Center, something which my hips and hamstrings were grateful for. My forever fabulous roommate presented me with a beautiful, vintage brass bracelet with Buddha engravings, a lovely reminder of the omnipresent divine. We ended the weekend’s festivities by welcoming the holiday season with good food, great company, and lots of laughter.


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  2. Yoga (Sanskrit, Pali: yóga) refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, it also refers to one of the six orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy, and to the goal toward which that school directs its practices. In Jainism it refers to the sum total of all activities—mental, verbal and physical.

    Major branches of yoga in Hindu philosophy include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Raja Yoga, compiled in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and known simply as yoga in the context of Hindu philosophy, is part of the Samkhya tradition.[10] Many other Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.

    The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, and is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj," meaning "to control," "to yoke" or "to unite."[12] Translations include "joining," "uniting," "union," "conjunction," and "means." Outside India, the term yoga is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise. Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy is called a yogi or yogini


  3. Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life. Read More
    "Ayurveda treats not just the ailment but the whole person and emphasizes prevention of disease to avoid the need for cure."
    Ayurvedic Medicine has become an increasingly accepted alternative medical treatment in America during the last two decades.
    Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicines
    * By using ayurvedic and herbal medicines you ensure physical and mental health without side effects. The natural ingredients of herbs help bring “arogya” to human body and mind. ("Arogya" means free from diseases). The chemicals used in preparing allopathy medicines have impact on mind as well. One should have allopathy medicine only when it is very necessary.
    * According to the original texts, the goal of Ayurveda is prevention as well as promotion of the body’s own capacity for maintenance and balance.
    * Ayurvedic treatment is non-invasive and non-toxic, so it can be used safely as an alternative therapy or alongside conventional therapies.
    * Ayurvedic physicians claim that their methods can also help stress-related, metabolic, and chronic conditions.
    * Ayurveda has been used to treat acne, allergies, asthma, anxiety, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, colds, colitis, constipation, depression, diabetes, flu, heart disease, hypertension, immune problems, inflammation, insomnia, nervous disorders, obesity, skin problems, and ulcers.

    Ayurvedic Terms Explained

    Dosha: In Ayurvedic philosophy, the five elements combine in pairs to form three dynamic forces or interactions called doshas. It is also known as the governing principles as every living things in nature is characterized by the dosha.

    Ayurvedic Facial: Purportedly, a "therapeutic skin care experience" that involves the use of "dosha-specific" products and a facial massage focusing on "marma points."

    Ayurvedic Nutrition (Ayurvedic Diet): Nutritional phase of Ayurveda. It involves eating according to (a) one's "body type" and (b) the "season." The alleged activity of the doshas--three "bodily humors," "dynamic forces," or "spirits that possess"--determines one's "body type." In Ayurveda, "body types" number seven, eight, or ten, and "seasons" traditionally number six. Each two-month season corresponds to a dosha; for example, the two seasons that correspond to the dosha named "Pitta" (see "Raktamoksha") constitute the period of mid-March through mid-July. But some proponents enumerate three seasons: summer (when pitta predominates), autumn, and winter (the season of kapha); or Vata season (fall and winter), Kapha season (spring), and Pitta season (summer). According to Ayurvedic theory, one should lessen one's intake of foods that increase ("aggravate") the ascendant dosha.


  4. Laura,
    Indeed you are a healer...yes, we all have the capacity to heal others if even with a smile or hug. You are definitely finding your way there in DC. So happy that you are doing so well and so proud that you are making a difference in people's lives.

    om shanti...Jessica

  5. I agree, we all have the capacity to heal. It all depends on where we focus our energy and intentions. Like Laura said, it can be something as simple as a smile. If you smile at someone who is having a bad day it just might be enough for them to be able to pass on a smile to someone else. If we all make a little bit of effort everyday it will add up to making the world a better place.
    Thanks for donating your time and energy to helping others. There is stength in numbers, we can all band together to hold eachother up in our times of weakness.