Transformation & Healing through Yoga
I love this sweet picture of Antonella Celestina Novi, one of my Yoga students. This does not look like the same girl I met back in August of 2016. That girl was quiet, fearful, and seemed to be all folded up inside of herself.
Now look at her! Just look at that smile and the confidence she exudes! Notice the butterflies on her clothing, on the fairy card she drew, and how wide open her heart is and how spread out her own "wings" are.
"I am ready to settle in and share the journey of my total mind body connection through practicing yoga at Maya Shakti with Dawn Marie.
How many people have thought of yoga as folding yourself in half; having to wear weird clothes that show everything; or being in a room full of people, not understanding what the strange names of the poses mean and how to do them correctly so you don't break or fall over?
These were all my fears and misconceptions of "Yoga." A trendy, possibly spendy, unnecessary bendy part of other people's new age life..
That was until I needed major shoulder surgery on both shoulders, due to a traumatic injury when I was a teen. For 20 years I held my shoulders in their sockets, until my life became so heavy I could not hold on. The surgeries I had were very complicated and each took 8 months to heal. My right and left chest/pectoral muscles are now stretched to their limit under my armpit, connecting the tendon to my shoulder blades!! "Split Pectoral Transfer"
I was lucky to go to Laurie Sherman & Paul Sherman for physical therapy. We worked on getting to know my new muscle structure. Starting slow, with different modalities of flexibility, mixed with the right amount of kindness and encouragement. I will never forget the spring afternoon, when Laurie asked me to do a small exercise called "Cat-Cow" knees bent on the ground, arms strong and steady, like a table top. Unknowingly, this was my first yoga pose!! And I did it without pain!! I suddenly realized I had been gaining flexability in my mind as well as in my healing body. I said aloud "I CAN!" Laurie smiled and said simply "You Are."
In August of 2016, the day of the forest fire at Little Cranberry I met with Dawn at Maya Shakti for the first time. Our talk was full of what I had been through with my shoulder surgeries and the fear of pain that remained within my body as well as within my past. I was experiencing my first "yoga-life" coaching through concepts and ideas of what "yoga" is. Moving meditation. A way to be in the present. A way to let go of depression in the past and anxiety of the future. A way of mindful change from thinking and doing, to feeling and being. Yes...yes... I had read about this WAY of mindfulness in books and podcasts, but never had I considered blocking out a time and space to practice the philosophies into reality.
I made the commitment to invest the time, money, and energy into myself. I was scared and intrigued.
At Maya Shakti there are many levels of yoga offered. I began with Slow Flow Yoga Nidra, on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 11:00. It was my new physical therapy apointment. The yoga room is painted in dark red and purple, with Mandala tapestries along one wall . The lighting is always dim. AND.... there are No mirrors! There is no way to judge or doubt if the way you are moving is correct. Often Dawn is not based in the front of the room displaying the yoga positions. She is often explaining the benefits of the pose and how it is helpful for which parts of the body. The main intention is to go only as far as is comfortable, not stretching beyond the edge into pain. This class is not competitive in the least. Everyone is at their own level, from physical limitations to the full length of the pose. All yoga necessities are provided, mats, blocks, straps, even comfy blankets.
Slow Flow Yoga Nidra is a gift. The Sunday morning and Wednesday evening classes are life defining. Meaning at the beginning of the practice, one is to set an "intention." An intention is bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off of your mat. Some examples of qualities or virtues you might use as your intention include: patience, gratitude, grace, being present in the moment, awareness of breath, kindness, patience, peacefulness, forgiveness, letting go, releasing negativity, being open to receive, inner strength. Using these simple words when linking breath to movement, is a great way of managing where attention goes, energy flows...
I found by setting an intention I began building a bridge between what I worked through on my mat, and what I continued to focus my mind on when I stepped off of my yoga mat. This intention is a powerfully energetic tool for healing.
At first my new shoulders and intentions were still tight. The Nidra part of "Yoga Nidra" is a form of guided meditation turough deep relaxaion. Where intentions form into realies within the subconscious. It is a restorative balance.
But as I continued the process every other week, I realized my edge was extending and my intentions were becoming attainable. I actually began opening myself to possibilities and opportunities I would have never considered due to pain in my shoulders or not feeling I would be accepted if I participated. What did I find "out there, with the normies (normal people)?"
Wow!! I know this sounds strange, but I found a simple path leading to a future I never even imagined. All by way of getting a camera, then joining the local photography club. At the first camera club meeting I went to, a world wide famous photographer named Wolfgang Kaehler, was presenting his work. Hardly any of his images were manipulated with editing programs. At the end of the presentation, Wolfgang Kaehler, told the group of the next cultural photography tour he was planning for February of 2017... on a tiny boat (40 person) Uncruise along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal!! A travel agent in Anacortes is in the camera club. She had talked with Wolfgang before the program and already set up the opportunity to "go along for the ride." I was given a brochure. The colorful itinerary included a land tour of Costa Rica, as well as the photography cruise.
Talk about taking my intentions off the mat, I was ready to take my new found strength and flexibility off the map!
I have never traveled alone. In fact if I do drive to Seattle, I take the back roads. So putting a down payment for this trip, talk about a new wave of challenges and expectations that never neared my consciousness. Practicing Yoga at Maya Shakti became a true passion along with photography. Anxiety rose and fell over the months, as I turned inward to relax outward. My shoulders became my friends, attached strongly to my body. My mind was finally able to let go of the fear contained in my body, which made me have less migraines, which made my mood improve drastically.
The woman who walked into Maya Shakti in August of 2016, was someone completely different than the one boarding the flight to Costa Rica in February of 2017. I felt peace and joy as never before. Life has become a beautiful adventure. Because, guess where I am , Right Now.... in Costa Rica, again!! I will be volunteering at http://www.butterflyconservatory.org/ for a few months!! I fell in love while here in Costa Rica in February, with myself. For 20 years I had defined myself and denied wellness. I am no longer depressed or repressed. I am aware. I truly care.
I immersed myself fully into the flow of taking my yoga practice off the mat for two months before my recent departure. With Dawn at the helm guiding a private yoga coaching group of five amazing women♡♡, and through the powerful Yoga Foundations series . What a journey before the journey! I have never worked so hard with such diligence on being mindful of the moment. I am a conscious observer. I am a trustworthy, compassionate friend. I know... *tears* for a Fact, I would not have gained the courage, strength and hope that has fully integrated into who I have become."
~ Namaste ~
Oftentimes, the student is the teacher. I have learned so much from Antonella as I watched her transform herself and emerge from her warm, safe cocoon to spreading her wings wide and stepping into the powerful being she is. As I was guiding her on her journey, I was prompted to uplevel my teachings and offerings to keep up with her! I'm so excited to see what she does next! ~Dawn Marie