International Yoga Day: Spreading the Awesomesauce with Athea Davis

I started doing yoga about four years ago, I guess you could say yoga found me. I was in a bit of a transition with my daughter’s care and needs at the time; I believe I intuitively knew I needed something to ground me. Four years later, I use yoga as a go-to tool for my physical and emotional well-being. It’s been a healing practice that has saved me in times of what seems like unmanageable stress.

I’ve now been through several phases with my yoga practice and, I can proudly say, I finally feel good about where I am. I did go through the oh-so-common phase of trying to be REALLY good at yoga. I would tell myself, “I’m going to perfect my yoga practice, I will achieve wheel pose if it kills me.” Hmmm… guess what, no I won’t. Wheel pose is not meant for a body like mine. Backbends aren’t my thing. I humbly discovered I had it all wrong.

Yoga isn’t about being good at it; it’s about being present.

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Yoga & My Family

About a year ago, I started to wonder if yoga could not only benefit me but also my family. As I began my research, I serendipitously became connected to Athea Davis with Solsense Yoga. She is truly a special soul. She is full of joy, light and her motto is “have an awesome sauce day!” Yet even with all that energy and happiness, Athea exudes an almost Buddha-like calmness.

She has been the perfect fit for my family. Most Saturday mornings when Athea arrives, there are two barking dogs, a 12-year-old daughter screaming “I’m too tired to do yoga!”, and two or three teenage boys barreling down our stairs. Yet, Athea always graciously walks in and simply says, “Who wants to do some yoga with me?” And, in her Zen-like way, says, “Whoever shows up is who’s supposed to be there.”

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Athea Davis

Every Saturday looks a little different with our family. Whether it’s just me or my entire family, I have found one consistency throughout this past year working with Athea; her total and complete love and acceptance of my family. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you Athea.

Enjoy reading about Athea. She has changed my life and many others through the work she does bringing mindfulness tools to so many in need.

  1. What led you to choose yoga as a profession?

Athea: I often question if I chose yoga as a profession or if it chose me. My journey into teaching yoga felt like a very fluid and organic process. Before I started teaching yoga, I was at the top of my career in the corporate legal world. I was married for over ten years. I was enjoying motherhood. Yet, I felt very stuck and heavy in the life I was living. Something felt inauthentic about it all. I kept listening to this internal messenger and finally took a stand to live life as authentically as possible.

That meant leaving my marriage and embracing whole-heartedly the unpredictability of that dissolution. No marriage dissolution is easy. However, I would be remiss to not say, in addition to dissolving my marriage, I also came face-to-face with the reality that my former spouse was an alcoholic and suffered from depression. This entire process set me into a tailspin of unfathomable pain. So, I took my first yoga class. I felt an authenticity that I had never experienced. I had a teacher ask me if I ever thought about teaching because she felt I would be a natural. Now, with Sol Sense Yoga, I teach in schools, work with youth and families, create and lead professional development offerings for educators, create and lead workshops, lead trainings for burgeoning teachers and camp counselors, write, speak, and mentor youth in the juvenile justice system. I call it spreading the awesomesauce!

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  1. What led you to start Sol Sense Yoga?

I desired authorship and creative license. I had a vision of what yoga can offer for those that wanted a deeper experience and intuited a need and hunger from those around me for something more personal and intimate than what was being offered in a typical gym or studio type class. There’s nothing wrong with those types of offerings, they serve an important purpose, but for me personally, I had a desire to dig deeper into this thing called yoga with others, especially as it relates to taking yoga off the mat. I had a vision of offering a safe space where relationships hold the possibility to be built from a place of authenticity, love, and worth. Sol Sense Yoga isn’t just a health and wellness consulting business; it’s an embodiment of healing and connection. I infuse that vision into everything I do and every person I have the honor to connect with.

  1. In your opinion, what are the biggest health benefits of yoga?

Focus. Sustained concentration. Awareness. Emotional Self-Regulation. Connectedness. Wholeness. Love. Those words pretty much sum it up, and in no order. Those are the things that not only help us manage our elevated levels of stress, intense emotion, trauma, grief, and the pain and suffering we all experience in this beautiful journey of life, but they also hold the key to authentic living. Yoga has the power to heal from the inside out.

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  1. What is your favorite part of teaching yoga to Elaine’s family?

I love the laughter, the intimacy, and the realness with everyone (including the sweet “Buddha” dogs!). And, I value our Dharma Talks, or, in non-yogi speak, our philosophical conversations about how to live the most authentic and elevated life possible, both personally and professionally. Also, we are not in a studio or a school with a set of rules and etiquette to follow, which are necessary and wonderful things to have in that environment.

  1. What is your advice for people who have never tried yoga?

Get out there and do it. There’s a lot of information out there and keep in mind that there is a time and place for research. It doesn’t matter what variety you try, keep it simple and easy. Simple and easy varies from person to person. Maybe for you simple and easy means going to a community yoga class at your local gym, your neighborhood yoga studio, perhaps there’s a free class at a community event, or you download or live stream a class and try it in your own home. The access and opportunities are there, which is great, but they can be a bit overwhelming. Make it simple and easy. Commit to having the experience. Don’t worry about shopping around for the right kind of experience. Your experiences on the mat will lead you to the next steps and the next right place at the right time.

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To learn more about Athea Davis and Sol Sense Yoga, visit her website.

XOXO,

Elaine

 

A Woman’s Intuition by Elizabeth Irvine

When Elaine asked me to contribute a post about how to find peace during tough times and how to deal with uncertainty, intuition immediately came to mind. Women utilize intuition every day, often unknowingly. Here is how I learned to awaken my senses.

It was my first job out of college, and it was overwhelming. I was twenty-two years old, fresh out of school, and scared. The hospital’s Neonatal ICU was a place of great intensity. I can still recall with great clarity the yelling of orders.

“Start an IV ASAP and get that drip going now!” And I’d scramble to do so, all the while knowing I had to hook up the heart monitor on a different baby, check a temperature, suction . . . a list of “to dos” so long that I teetered on the edge, feeling so overwhelmed I did not know where to begin. There were so many critical tasks to perform, and so little time.

A Calm Intuitive Whisper

As hectic and frightening as it was, those early days in my nursing career taught me to develop the ability to keep a cool head and allow intuition to move through me to get the job done. When I think back on those days, it was as if I had found a guiding presence from deep within, a calm intuitive whisper that led me. Relax. Focus. One thing at a time. You know what to do. Once I understood how to use this intuitive feeling, I have never stopped listening to that voice.

Uncertainties

Actually, for me, the challenges of motherhood (and life) do not feel so different from my early nursing days, and that same feeling of trusting my intuition as a nurse continues to guide me as a woman and a mother. For me, as wonderful as motherhood can be, it also can feel overwhelming, hectic, and holds daily uncertainties. And the challenges and unknowns are constantly changing with every stage. Now, as a mother of three young adult children, I find that I have had the capacity to perform in ways I never thought possible. Much like my experience as an ICU nurse, mothering has shown me that my reservoir of intuition is deep.

Elaine & Caitlin

My relationship with Elaine and her lead designer Caitlin, bring home a working mother’s ability to tap into her intuition and let that knowingness guide her. During our last design collaboration meeting, whether it’s Elaine’s teen age son texting her or Caitlin rubbing her tiny beautiful belly (second bambino), they both innately flex their intuitive muscle and gracefully navigate demands of working motherhood.

My Body Knows Before My Head Catches Up

What day isn’t filled with some moments of uncertainty? These uncomfortable parts of a day are the perfect opportunity to practice using your intuition. Tap into your gut feeling and allow this sixth sense to guide your choices. I’m talking about times when things just don’t feel quite right–maybe it’s one of your kids not acting like themselves or not feeling quite right about a situation. Frequently, my body knows and senses the right thing to do long before my head catches up.

Practice This Now: Feel Peace & Relax Into the Answer

Here’s an exercise to practice tapping into your intuition. Take a moment to pause. Sit up straight and relax into your breath. Take a long deep breath in and a long deep breath out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Allow your breath to make more space in your body and quiet your thoughts. In this quiet, still space feel solid as a rock– there are no barriers of assumption or judgment or criticism. Be present. Now, truly listen. The answer is in the quiet space. It is usually simple and direct. Try this technique during a conversation or in your own quiet space—either way you are tapping into what is subconsciously being told.

It’s Your Gift, Use it.

Most women call on their intuition and can read between the lines. Even though most of us have it,  most of us fail to acknowledge our gift and rarely use it regularly to strengthen our own intuitive confidence. Just as Elaine and Caitlin innately displayed theirs, my intuitive whisper has become a very natural way for me to maneuver the challenges and uncertainties of daily life. Through dedicated intention and practice, I have learned to awaken my senses and hone in on my sixth. It’s your gift too—use it.

elizAbout Elizabeth Irvine
As a nationally recognized author, speaker, writer and yoga instructor, I believe great health, feelings of peaceful contentment and happy-for-reason-joy in your life are within everyone’s reach. It’s not a quick fix: having the tools to create balance and well being, doesn’t mean we won’t come up against challenges. It does mean we can begin to learn how to become quiet and still and re-connect to our innate self-healing and intuitive abilities. You learn how to respond from a place of capacity to meet the unexpected, and begin to take greater ownership of your bodies and your life. The result is a lasting effect of clarity, energy and joy— truewellbeing.

Elizabeth Irvine is an educator, award-winning author and creative director of The Jewelry Project. Elizabeth’s philosophy and teachings are based on twenty-five years’ experience as a health care professional and through her yogic style of living. During this time she gained a reflective insight into what truewellbeing really means.

Irvine’s books, Healthy Mother Healthy Child and A Moment’s Peace provide women and families with a calming and healing influence and a simple guide for bringing peace and serenity into the home.

Connect with Elizabeth:

www.elizabethirvine.com
Facebook @elizabethirvinejewelry
Twitter  @elizabethirvine
Instagram @elizabethirvinejewelry
Pinterest @elizabethirvine
You Tube
@bethirvine


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For My Birthday: Love, Acceptance and a Little Cloudy Bay

yogaDear Friends-

Sometimes coincidences are not so coincidental.

Just as I was walking into my morning yoga class today, a fellow special needs mom/warrior friend forwarded a blog post instructing, “YOU MUST READ THIS!” So I did, and in a matter of minutes, I had tears streaming down my face.

In this post, a beautiful, courageous woman named Prima wrote of her experiences as the mother of an eleven-year-old autistic son. Her words struck me and this passage inspired me:

We have difficult days, sometimes weeks. I purposely choose not to talk about the difficult moments, because I am a “glass half full” kind of gal. I try my best to remain focused on the positive things in life; however, difficult moments do manage to come my way. All the time. Usually after a long and difficult week, my faith in everything I do is put to the test. Every time I am faced with one of life’s many obstacles, I can’t help but wonder if everything we do is worth it, if all the sacrifices will lead to the ultimate goal. And then I reflect; I think about the bigger picture and realize that, when things fall apart, it is simply part of the healing process.

After reading it, I quickly scooted into my yoga class, the instructor glancing as I wiped tears from my face. Crap, she knows I’m not at peace right now.

Now, I like to act like I have my shit together at yoga with my ‘I can be Buddha too’ mindset. But then karma pays a visit and you find yourself walking into yoga class crying. I know the whole point is acceptance, even if you aren’t sitting under a Bodhi tree, but we westerners just can’t help ourselves with our perfectionism. You know it’s bad when you’re practicing perfection at yoga — I’ve got real issues, don’t I?

After the warm up poses, the teacher said, “Okay, I want to set an intention for our class today. I want you all to think about acceptance, releasing all expectations and self-love.” I could have sworn she gave me a quick nod. She’s onto me!

Well, after this second coincidence, I began to rethink by birthday message, and rather than offer you some high and mighty advice in a listicle about what I think I know and have learned over the past year, I thought: what if I just told the truth?

And the truth is, I’ve been feeling like shit lately. (THAT felt good!) And, instead of pretending to have it all together, I reasoned, I need to love and accept where I am right now and have faith that my pain is all a part of the process of growing, healing and becoming stronger.

This advice has been extremely hard to follow because I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’m struggling to figure out exactly why. For many of us the long, lazy, easy days of summer are a welcome, long overdue break, but for some of us, the change in scheduling proves more challenging.

The summer season is always harder for my daughter, Marlie. She becomes more anxious and frustrated, and her challenges become more evident. Somehow when you throw out the disciplined daily routines, her everyday vulnerabilities come to light. I see, feel and hear her frustrations and fears and they absorb into every molecule of my being. All I want to do is help my baby, but at times, there is nothing I can do.

I feel helpless, scared and quite frankly, exhausted. I often find myself emotionally stuck in that dangerous place between what it is and what I wish it could be. I’m desperately crawling my way back towards the present and doing all I can to find acceptance, love and peace there.

Every single day is a test for me to stay in the now — embracing her right where she is, not wishing or thinking it could be different, but knowing that this is her miraculous journey, her one of a kind story and to celebrate it for its truth, authenticity, and hope.

Like Prima, I consider myself a “glass half full type of gal.” But lately I’ve let my emotions get the best of me. On one hand, you want to trust them because it they feel so real, so raw, so true, but on the other hand, a deeper, more knowing part senses they are visiting acquaintances that do not have any real, sustained interest in my long term well being.

There is an old quote which states, “Feel what you feel and do not deny your truth.” But if I feel like shit, what then?

Inevitably, the cesspool of negative emotion leads to a feeling of guilt that I am even feeling what I am feeling in the first place. Oh the joys of being a woman — guilt mixed in with anger can be a lethal combination. Cue Maleficent. If I show up for work wearing a pair of black leather horns, its official – I’m a goner.

Put simply, I’m just not sure there are clear answers to experiencing pain and complex, difficult emotions. I do know that a certain amount of self-love and acceptance about where you are is a good thing. I guess I just keep telling myself that there are no skipped steps and I need to feel what I feel, to roll around in it, so to speak, to get to higher ground.

But now I sense a need to lay down my sword in search for peace, solitude and healing. Perhaps this is my soul’s way of communicating to me. Maybe it’s a primal message sent to ensure my survival that I am to stop, listen and just be.

I have come to the conclusion that I am going to pledge to love and accept myself on this 11th day of August celebrating my 46th year of life on Earth. (Forty-six, meh…I’m still trying to get on board with this one.) I accept this temporary dip in emotional health as just another step toward becoming a better, stronger version of myself. And as Prima states,

For the healing to happen, you need to leave room for all of it: for the grief, the pain, the tears, the anger.

Well, I can safely say I’ve left room for all of the above to fully manifest, and I do feel the healing has begun. Thanks to Prima for her brave, heartfelt post, to my yoga teacher for her encouraging intention, and to Cloudy Bay, my favorite Sauvignon Blanc for its soothing powers. I am now in a much better place 😉

marlieI’ll leave you with this picture of Marlie at Space Center Houston. She loved being there and when I asked why she said, “Because I want to be an astronaut and go far, far away and visit aliens.”

Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. If healing, self-love and acceptance aren’t your thing, then escaping to another planet can always be an option. You gotta’ love her.

Happy Birthday to Me!

XOXO, Elaine


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