Meditation of Motherhood

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I woke

and crept

like a cat

 

on silent feet

about my own house–

to look

 

at you

while you were sleeping,

your hair

 

sprayed on the pillow,

your eyes

closed,

 

your body

safe and solitary,

and my doors

 

shut for your safety

and your comfort.

I did this

 

thinking I was intruding,

yet wanting to see

the most beautiful thing

 

that has ever been in my house.

 

~Mary Oliver, “I Woke” from Blue Horses


During a lecture, Lorin Roche described mediation as the “practice of paying loving attention to life” or “falling in love with life.” The meditation teacher and author then went on to describe how mothers are constantly meditating.  I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. I hoped I would one day experience this magical  practice. Until recently I have not truly known what this full-bodied, full-time mediation really entailed.

I am by no means as expert as I have just survived these past six weeks with one child. However, becoming a mother has given me a new perspective on meditation. I am now paying attention to each moment, facial expression, small coo, gurgle and cry with a constant, loving awareness. I did not know I could become so singular in mind and purpose before I met my daughter. Even when I am doing something totally unrelated–taking a shower, doing yoga, reading etc –there is an undercurrent in my mind that is still focused on her.

Every single person on this earth had a mother. Whether or not the relationship with the mother is one of nourishing and care, I believe that most mothers (adoptive mothers included) are part of this constant meditation. It is a tether that is forged in the most delicate moments with a new child but is unbreakable. A bond that starts in the womb but strengthen through the sleepless night and first smiles. A connection that will continue to deepen in a way I have still yet to experience as a child grows into an adult. I think of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and the whole lineage of women who came before me. All strong and capable but probably found themselves in the middle of the night exhausted, overwhelmed, and likely at the verge of tears because of  a tiny human being who will not settle down. They probably also found themselves staring at their child in more peaceful moments and wondering if there is anything in the world so perfect, so beautiful , and so overflowing with love.

Motherhood has proven to me that I know even less than thought, but with love I am capable of more than I ever imagined. Like meditation, motherhood is not easy but it is magical. It is not glamorous but it is filled with unimaginable joy. It really is falling in love with life.

My husband and I were delighted to invite Cora Marie into the world on November 18, 2018. I will be on maternity leave from teaching yoga for the remainder of the winter as I continue to fall in love with Cora. Stay tuned as spring emerges. Until then, I am looking forward to beginning 2019 with this new meditation of motherhood.

Love and Light,

Kristin (& Luna, Cora’s full-time protector)

Yoga & Pregnancy

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I finally announced on social media several weeks ago that we are expecting our first baby in late November. We are over the moon excited and impatiently counting down the days while slightly terrified in the way that all first time parents are when bombarded with horror stories of  labor and delivery, screaming banshee infants, and not sleeping for the rest of our lives.

Horror stories aside, I have to admit that I have been enjoying this pregnancy as a curious observer. Just as I encourage my students to simply observe their breathing or sensations during yoga without judgement or control, I have been trying to do the same with my ever changing pregnant body. I try to greet each day as a new adventure. In my experience, adventures are not always comfortable or easy. A year ago I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea and for a time did not even think I would be able to get pregnant naturally. After a long winter of learning how to eat, rest, and take back control of my long term health, we were blessed in the spring when this little bean started to grow in my womb. My emotions fluctuated between constantly worrying if I am gaining too much or not enough weight on a daily basis to being overjoyed when telling the good news to our families. My body has experienced wonder as the fluttering kick of baby has now turned into full fledged karate in my ribcage. My body has also experienced pain when my shifting bones caused an imbalance in my back and I could barely walk around the block for several weeks. I feel like this past year was a rollercoaster that I was tricked to getting on and now never want to get off.

To say the past 9 months pregnancy has been easy would be false. If the picture at the beginning of this blog is what you imagine my whole pregnancy to be, I apologize for misleading you.  Pregnancy is beautiful and magical while also physically challenging and mentally exhausting. I have had my fair share of discomfort, sleepless nights, trips to the physical therapist, long waits in the hospital to get tested and retested to confirm baby’s health, and many self-conscious moments in front of the mirror. Imagine: splayed across the floor, in my husband’s oversized shirt,  hair amok, exhausted and crying for no specific reason while Luna tries to lick my face which ultimately makes me cry more. That would be another accurate picture of pregnancy.

More often, I am lucky to say I have  moments of great joy and sheer amazement when I experience the changes my body is going through to accommodate this tiny human. I have learned to lean into the innate female wisdom of my body that was dormant during my early 20s when I got absorbed in the culture of “busy” and “never enough”. Now, I am learning to honor the needs of my body. It changes moment to moment and day to day, not unlike my yoga practice. Some days I like doing many sun salutations, warrior poses and moving with strength. Some days I embrace the earthiness of moon salutations, restorative poses and moving with sweetness. Other days I do not practice at all.  For a while I still ran, ever so slowly, but those days are becoming much fewer and far between. Instead, I take Luna for long walks absorbing the sun and changing seasons. I miss some poses, like cobra and sphinx but not others like deep twists or inversions. The most important thing I have learned in this pregnancy is to listen to my body and always keep moving, even if it is gentle. I know my body is up to something greater, something more important. All those deep, complicated poses and long distance races will still be there after baby is born.

All these little adjustments have added up to a great realignment in my body, mind and spirit as it journeys through pregnancy and ultimately to motherhood. David Whyte, in his poem “Santiago”, talks of the great El Camino pilgrimage across Spain but it also speaks to some of the pilgrimages of life.

“the sense of having walked from far inside yourself

out into the revelation, to have risked yourself

for something that seemed to stand both inside you

and far beyond you, that called you back

to the only road in the end you could follow, walking

as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice

that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,”

After the pilgrimage of  pregnancy, I will embark the adventure of motherhood but perhaps I have actually already begun. I do not know when or how or where I am exactly going. I pray, in my rags of love and compassion, that I will safely meet this little person when they are ready to arrive.

My schedule is updated here. I plan on teaching my weekly classes through November 16. I will then take some time off through the winter as I learn about things such as diaper blowouts, late night feedings, and how to put on those cool but complicated baby wearing wraps. That being said, things often do not go as planned especially during the final weeks of pregnancy. Stay tuned on my FB and IG, as I have some lovely yogis standing in the wings ready to cover my classes if something changes.

*Updated 11/13: As stated above, things change. I will be taking the rest of this week off as we await this little one’s arrival. I need to respect and honor my body during this homestretch, and am so grateful I was able to teach as long as I did!

Love and light,

Kristin (& Luna & Baby)

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training // Home

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Last week I completed the final module for my 300hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Tracy and Mitchell Bleier to become a 500hr Registered Yoga Teacher. It was an endeavor I dove into, rather boldly yet blindly, a year ago when we moved to Chicago. I was craving more education. More motivation.

As I sit here on this grey October morning, I can confidently say that this training provided me with more tools to better understand the human body and inspire my mind. It encouraged me to teach what I already know, whether that be an asana and alignment heavy class filled with props and anatomy or a fluid and flowing class filled with imagery and connecting to the senses. There is still more I am craving to understand. More I want to learn. However, I think this is my path as a teacher: to always be a student. The phrase “the more you learn, the less you know” speaks truth in my heart.

I wanted to share with you a sample of my writing from our final module during our writing workshop day with Tracy. I began this training with a writing prompt so I think it would be fitting to end with sharing my final writing prompt.


Home 

Sitting on my sofa, the late afternoon light

is filtering through the green curtains 

that have followed me into every house

of my adulthood.

Not every house a home

but every place brimming with the potential of 

finally coming home. 

 

The many houses I have drifted among 

have been built with brick and concrete. 

I want my home built on something stronger.

Something I can fit into my pockets and take with me.

Like the flowers I used to collect outside

as a little girl to bring to my mother.

Crumpled upon arrival but always accepted, 

graciously, lovingly. 

 

What I mean is a home is not a place at all

rather it is a sensation beyond knowing.

A feeling in my bones 

this is exactly where I am meant to be. 

Cultivating gratitude as a farmer hoes the ground 

before planting seeds each spring. 

Tenderly caring for each budding plant 

so it can flourish, grow and belong. 

 

I can feel the warm fur of my dog curled up next to me

and the gentle rise and fall of her breathing. 

A position she can find almost anywhere

but today has chosen join me in the sunlight.

Then she rests her soft little head in my lap

looks up at me with her trusting brown eyes saying:

Thank you

and 

I love you.


 

Love and Light,

Kristin (& Luna)

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Pay Attention

img_5500.jpg“Attention is the door way to gratitude…to wonder…to reciprocity.” -Robin Wall Kimmerer

 

Pay Attention

 

Pay attention and feel. 

The touch of the earth, the solid ground beneath your feet. 

Slow down and smell. 

The scent late summer air heavy with rain,

hot asphalt and mildew. 

Stop and notice.

The sunlight and the shade playing shadows

across the buildings and the cracks in sidewalk

telling you the time, day and season.  

Quiet and listen.

Hear the cicadas singing the final, bittersweet melody of dusk

interrupted by a far off call of children playing ball in the last bit of daylight

and another plane passing overhead but then,

for a fleeting moment, silence. 

 

Attention is a doorway—enter 

through your senses and receive  

the world of gratitude and wonder. 

EMPOWERED // Poetry

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And like that, the dog days of summer are upon us. It is August! I had another module for my 500hr training a few weeks ago and delighted in all the beautiful words that were brought to share with us. I wanted to share some of the poetry with you and some of the words that have been inspiring me as I continue my attempt to navigate, head heart first through the tail end of this abundant season. OM Shanti!


Invocation 

by Jeanne Lohmann

Let us try what it is to be true to gravity,
to grace, to the given, faithful to our own voices,

to lines making the map of our furrowed tongue.
Turned toward the root of a single word, refusing

solemnity and slogans, let us honor what hides
and does not come easy to speech.  The pebbles

we hold in our mouths help us to practice song,
and we sing to the sea.  May the things of this world

be preserved to us, their beautiful secret
vocabularies.  We are dreaming it over and new,

the language of our tribe, music we hear
we can only acknowledge.  May the naming powers

be granted.  Our words are feathers that fly
on our breath.  Let them go in a holy direction.


 by Diane Ackerman

Science and art both seem to be throwing buckets of light not the dark corners of existence, and I was enthralled. It didn’t make sense that we would be separating science and art, or that we would be separating nature and human nature. It seemed like we should be taking the universe literally–as one verse.


The Bell and the Blackbird

by David Whyte

The sound of a bell

Still reverberating,

or a blackbird calling

from a corner of the field,

asking you to wake

into this life,

or inviting you deeper

into the one that waits.

 

Either way

takes courage,

either way wants you

to be nothing

but that self that

is no self at all,

wants you to walk

to the place

where you find

you already know

how to give

every last thing

away.

 

The approach

that is also

the meeting

itself,

without any

meeting

at all.

 

That radiance

you have always

carried with you

as you walk

both alone

and completely

accompanied

in friendship

by every corner

of the world

crying

Allelujah.


 

Peace, love and namaste,

Kristin

Summer Poem // Source

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Source

The forest and rivers call to you

like the sparrow laughing at the edge of the meadow,

or the wind whispering through the trees before a storm.

Beckoning you to return again to your roots, your headwaters. 

Pointing you back to the source of creativity and unconditional love. 

It is deeper, richer and more profound than any complicated words on a page. 

Rather, it is held in the simplest of moments. 

Watching gentle mist hanging over the water at dawn,

the first rays of sunlight trickling down the tree tops. 

Staring into the vast, unimaginably blue summer sky while

wondering how the wildflower grows on such a steep mountainside.

Glimpses of a doe and her fawn deep in the wood, and

without breaking the sacred silence they leap away. 

The beauty of life presents itself like a gracious gift,

so that you may live each day with freedom, purpose and grace. 


 

I have finally returned to civilization (and consistent WiFi) after traveling from the beautiful mountains of Colorado, across the endless plains of Kansas, to the river valleys of southern Indiana, the lush forests of Ohio and the peaceful lakeshore of northern Wisconsin. Being so connected to nature soothes my soul making it hard to leave the quiet solitude of the outdoors, although it is good to home. I am feeling inspired to be outside more, find gratitude in simple moments and find the beauty within this noisy city.

July class and workshop schedule updated on my Classes & Workshops Page. 

Love & Light,

Kristin (and Luna)

Summer Solstice 2018

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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” ~ Albert Camus


Things I love about summer:

  • Being outside
  • Blue skies
  • Green grass
  • Trees in full bloom
  • The gentle buzz of summer insects
  • Long, lingering summer evenings
  • Early, perfect summer mornings
  • The magic of a warm summer night
  • Birds singing
  • The first firefly of the season
  • Warm sun on my skin
  • Riding my bike with out gloves
  • Running without a hat
  • Walking the dog, in sandals
  • Sandals in general
  • Skirts and dresses
  • Climbing trees
  • Road trips
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Canoeing
  • Lazy, hot summer afternoons
  • and…
  • YOGA OUTSIDE!

I am hosting a Summer Solstice celebration is Thursday June 21st at Horner Park at 6:30pm! You will find us on top of the hill behind the field house near Montrose and California. We will be practicing 108 Sun Salutations and rejoicing in this magic, solar energy that has taken over the natural world.The sun salutations will be broken down into 9 sets of 12 with each set complemented by a poem, affirmation or intention making it truly a moving meditation. The practice should last between 75-90 minutes, complete with a sunset savasana.  Why 108? More about the Summer Solstice here

This is a donation based class with all proceeds going towards I Grow Chicago, a local organization whose mission is to grow Englewood from surviving to thriving through community connection, skill building, and opportunity. You can donate online through our event page or bring cash on the day of. Join the FB Event Page for updates.

All levels and abilities are welcome. Modification will be given and you can always skip one (or twelve) salutations to rest and soak in the summer evening. Grab a friend and please bring your own mat. Thanks to McFetridge Yoga Studio for helping me coordinate and host this event.

Love & Light,

Kristin

Kindness and Compassion

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“Kindness is the only strength there is.”~Gregory Boyle

Monday was one of those mornings. I spilled coffee grounds all over the floor at 6:10am. I kicked over my coffee while doing somatic yoga on my back at 6:35am. I had cleaned the floor, dried off my meditation books, had my bolster airing out and returned to my mat with a tiny cup of what was leftover of my coffee at 6:52am. I gradually made it to all fours, and up to several sun salutations thinking, Will all day be like this? No matter, I will just be patient and roll with it. 

The day proceeded in a way only certain days progress. Outside it had all the right amounts of sunshine and shade. There was a light breeze and temperature was bordering on perfect. I made it to my morning class to teach and realized I did not bring my yoga mat. I forgot an item on my grocery list. I dropped my phone several times while walking the dog. I was sure to give myself ample time on my bike to commute between all my yoga classes throughout day. I managed to turn on the wrong street, get caught behind a smelly school bus, and get stuck in rush hour traffic in Lakeview. Somehow, I was still on time and able to enjoy the slivers of blue sky between the buildings. I repeated to myself:  Inhale, I am present. Exhale, I am calm. 

After my class in Lakeview, I sat outside the studio to speak with one of my students. Her native language is Russian. I had to ask several time how to pronounce her name at the beginning of class, as it begins with an elusive “Ks”. I could tell she was struggling with translation during class, but managed to follow along. I was sure to clarify things when she looked confused. We spoke after class about being new to Chicago and how it is important to distinguish Belarus, her home, from Russia. When we were getting ready to say goodbye, she told me “Thank you for the class and being a patient and compassionate teacher.” I felt undeserving of this praise and thought, Thank you for your patience and compassion towards me as I learn about you. 

Mary Oliver says “Patience comes to the bones before it takes root in the heart as another good idea.” I think the same goes for compassion. It is something you have to feel internally so you can express it externally. I practiced compassion with myself in the morning: not getting upset about the coffee fiasco, my forgetfulness and general imperfections. One year ago I would have not been so forgiving. This internal shift has given me the strength to practice compassion with others. With my loved ones. With strangers. With my students.

Compassion is a mighty task that often feels daunting since I made it my mantra back in January. It has been a slow process. This past year has taught me to be kind, patient and more compassionate not only myself, but to my loved ones and the world. I take time each day to be grateful for what I have and allow myself to feel a sense of worthiness despite my imperfections. I try to focus on what I have accomplished rather than focusing on our cultural mantra of “never enough” and “busy competitions”. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I never wear fancy yoga pants doing a complicated yoga pose. Or if I am doing as much as that other yoga teacher on Instagram. It is not easy, but kindness is infectious. I am finally learning to slow down and see the forest for the trees. Small acts of kindness over time turn into bigger ripples. These ripples over time turn into waves. Kindness is truly where our greatest strength lies as humans.

How have you been kind today?

Love and Light,

Kristin

PS: I am teaching at FOUNTAIN HEAD this weekend! 9:30am Sunday June 10th.  Sign up here.

 

 

June Outdoor Yoga

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“And do you care what’s happening around you,
do your senses know the changes when they come?
Can you see yourself reflecting in the seasons, can you understand the need to carry on?”

~John Denver “Summer”


Have you been paying attention? Have you shifted with the seasons? It is time to blossom. Time to burst forward with the growth that has been incubating since the winter. Time to set goals into action. Time for backbends and suns salutations…. Time for outdoor yoga!

**Edited: Class is not at Oz Park, but inside!**On Sunday June 3rd I have the pleasure of teaching at Lululemon at 9am representing Yoga Six in conjunction with Lululemon Halsted. Class is Free!

at their store! Class is at 9am. On Sunday June 10th I am delighted to be teaching at The Fountainhead representing the fantastic Coconut Yoga at 9:30am. Sign up through Coconut’s website on their “Schedule” page. Registration includes a mimosa, but please BYOM (bring your own mat).

On Saturday June 16th I will be assisting an outdoor yoga class The Art of Movement led by the lovely Jessica Knochel at the Gold Coast Art Festival in Grant Park. Keep your eyes open for more information on this… It is coming soon!

Thursday June 21st is the summer solstice and I am searching for a place to host 108 Sun Salutations. I am considering having an outdoor pop-up class in the evening at a beautiful park. I love to be in touch, literally, with the rhythms of nature. So why not roll our mats out on the grass, salute the setting sun and open our hearts to a new season blossoming before our eyes? Any location suggestions would be welcome 🙂

My weekly schedule is still shifting, but keep an eye on my classes page for up-to-date information. There will be some additional 8am weekday classes, a midweek gentle class and some more shifting around that will be happening now through July. Follow my IG for weekly sub updates as well.

Love & Light,

Kristin

 

DIVERSIFIED : Poem

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This morning as I pedaled down the rain soaked ally,

I fell in love with the sky.

A tumultuous mirror of the life below,

ever changing, shifting, and evolving.

The dark and the light casting shadow and sunlight

onto the city and what I once perceived to be lost in the concrete.

It is truly in the tender fleeting moments I slow down:

The robin reemerging after a storm to sing its morning song.

The trees green growth heavy with potential after the downpour.

The soaring buildings embraced by thick low clouds along the lakeshore.

The world is always there waiting for you,

inviting you to share in its quiet, beautiful secret.


 

Another season, another training! This module of my 500hr is called DIVERSIFIED. It is still asking me to question, reflect and write. This poem emerged from our first prompt today. However, we are also bringing in more anatomy and somatic educators during the week. I love to add sensory awareness and intentional movement exercises into my yoga classes from beyond the traditional yoga lexicon. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge so I can share with my classes! I also plan to get back on a bi-monthly blog routine as we round out spring and arrive at summer. I hope to share more poems, reflections, and yoga tips.

Stay tuned for a post about yoga in parks, rooftop bars and more soon ❤

Love & Light,

Kristin