Why all the talk about Goddesses?

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I’ve often categorized women as on my team or not. Those on my team I have taken with me to explore and adventure and love, but, admittedly, it has been a long practice of learning to celebrate with them for their successes and gifts. For a long time, I felt jealous or sad, even angry if they got something or had something I wanted. Now, I can honestly say that has changed and I am truly happy, proud, and grateful when my girl friend’s dreams and desires come to life. I now stand and celebrate with them, whole heartedly. But, for those not on my team, I am still working on being aware of the judgement and comparison and then, choosing how I respond, deciding if love, empathy, compassion, and celebration, is truly what I want to extend. Now, once I notice I’m judging or comparing, I am choosing to stand with them, even from afar.

For such a long time, life has been a competition and I tried to win at the XYZ game (smarts, physical ability, guys, yoga, etc.). But wow, it’s exhausting! I know I am not alone. We women learn these things from books, magazines, TV (hello: advertising is all about making us women feel less than; we then cure this feeling by buying the sh*t being touted as the miracle answer to us being fat, having cellulite, wrinkles, being tired, sick, etc.), the movies we watch (when was the last time you noticed more than one woman in a movie or a woman who didn’t talk to another woman only about guys, in a movie that wasn’t titled a “chick flick”). We women are programmed to compete and feel less than.

Now, I’m finding more and more I’m celebrating women, their dreams, their truths, their desires and like a drug addiction, it’s so much more fun. I’ve begun to call this the “Goddess Rising” phenomenon. It’s a throw back to the worship of the female entity, to a time when women were revered and celebrated, instead of crushed, held down, and told to be subservient. The word goddess evokes a stirring that something isn’t right, it pokes, it shakes, it rattles, and that is exactly the intention. The word goddess reminds us women that we too have the Divine in us.

All this started with awareness, with meditation, with yoga. From there, it moved into celebrating my own achievements and gifts and then, with this new found confidence, I began to share and talk about it/them. This practice has continued and deepened, moving into desire and longing, getting in touch with my sacred female qualities (which men have also: collaboration, joy, pleasure, sensuality, vulnerability, surrender, patience, intuition, creativity, community, etc.). All this is counter-cultural. This is risky. This is new. This isn’t easy, but it’s what the world has been missing for a few thousand years as we have swung to the worshipping of masculine traits (profit, bigger, better, faster, harder, being practical, an individual, logical, non-expressive, competitive, war).

Yoga and meditation, have been the vehicles, the tools through which this has blossomed. And now, I’m all in. It is now be my life’s mission to follow my deepest yearnings and desires, no matter how scary or hard or weird, and be here to champion the same in others.

So, here’s to desires realized and the tree of life growing from their actualization. (Proverbs 13:12)

“The greatest threat to a woman’s happiness and success is her own negative judgment of herself, and other women.

Every flower/woman has her very own unique way of blooming.

I have mine.

You have yours.

She has hers.

The point is to damn the torpedoes and bloom.

Full speed ahead, and bloom.

Bloom in this lifetime.

Bloom now.

Really. Right now.

Don’t let the cultural prejudices against blooming stop you from stepping up to your own plate.

Don’t wait, just in case we don’t get another round.

Bloom, even if the sun generated from another woman’s light hurts your eyes.”

Regena Thomashauer

This pic is from one of my many adventures with the goddesses Heather Phillips and Tara Huff. 💞 So thankful for these and the other women in my life! And, now, I’m truly thankful for those women not in my life, I’m celebrating you too.

xoxo

Ecstatic dance: pleasure in movement

Ecstatic dance:

pleasure

delight

moving this living body, in all those ways where shame has lingered

moving out anger

expressing joy

feeling frustration

feeling hunger

feeling empowerment

all within, the physical body.

This dance is about what feels good, what feels good within, within the body. This is a primal, animalistic movement at it’s simplest. This is movement without judgement, where compassion, love, joy, pain, fear, anything and everything goes and where it surfaces, to be let out, to be seen, to be heard, to be felt. Through ecstatic dance, we own it, face it, become it, noticing when we’re pushing, forcing, seeing the pain that we’ve experienced or are causing. We can choose another way, another movement, another action. This dance: an opportunity to celebrate mistakes, learn from them, change direction, try again, with no judgement but our own. We can move our hips to the left, circling, dropping down, twerking, or not, to do nothing….. Maybe it’s a stomp of the feet, over and over and over and over again!!! Maybe it’s a slap of the thigh or the wall, or a caress of the cheek, a slow touch along the waist….. The ecstatic dance floor forces nothing. Ecstatic dance is all choice. It’s ecstasy. It’s pain. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s sexy. It’s ugly. It’s a lot of movement and no movement. It’s slow. It’s fast. Ecstatic dance is easy, it’s hard. It’s an animalistic groan or a loud shout. It’s a burst of energy and a slow grind. This dance could be said it’s not even a dance at all, it’s somatic: our subconscious/consciousness inhabiting this living body, and finally we’ve found a place, a safe place, to show it, reveal it, let it out, to let it be known.

We become with ecstatic dance. We un-become. This is a moving meditation where you can watch yourself becoming a woman or a man who enjoys this body, movement, play, expressing who you are through your own, unique, movement.

I do this dance at home, by myself, and with a group where the energy of others encourages me that I can go further, face fears, and that I’m normal, I’m just like everyone else. In a group I feel the connection of humankind, we are one, we all have these same struggles and joys, and so, with the group we go further than we could alone.

Join me anytime (click here for my group offerings) and let me know how it goes.

Namaste my loves.

xoxo

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra: meaning, yogic sleep, balances the nervous system and reduces stress through a simple, guided relaxation while you rest in a nest of props (or perhaps in your bed at home!). Yoga Nidra’s can be of various lengths, with the typical offering at 30-minutes long. Most people fall in and out of sleep, but sometimes you will be awake and alert, or you fall fast asleep right away! Whatever happens is perfect and the beauty of this quiet and gentle practice: it’s about resting and restoring.

I myself do these regularly; sometimes when I need a little pick me up, or when I’m processing through some stuff and just can’t quite get to the root of the issue, or when I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I have committments that I need to be fully present for because a 30-minute yoga nidra is equal to 2-hours of sleep!

3 ways to get all the benefits of Yoga Nidra with me:

1. purchase 1 or 2 or all 4 of the Yoga Nidra’s I wrote and recorded via iTunes or Amazon: here. Plus there’s an in-depth, 20-minute explanation of the when, where, why, and how of yoga nidra if you purchase the entire album. Enjoy the benefits of this healing tool at anytime, anywhere, as your schedule allows with these MP3s.

2. Attend my Yoga Nidra & Restore weekly group class and get the added benefit of Restorative Yoga: simple yoga postures held for long periods of time with the gentle assist of a lot of props. This class is a 1.25-hour practice that balances our fast paced lifestyles and has an enormous capacity to heal physical and mental symptoms. I hold these in Redding, but I also offer these when I travel, so be on the look out and join me when you can: here.

3. Attend my annual spring Yin/Yang Hot Springs Retreat. Here we find solace, healing, rest, and fun in my most favorite place in all the world: Surprise Valley Hot Springs Resort. Everyone gets their own private hot-tub filled with hot spring water from this valley floor, and we recharge and rebuild with vinyasa yoga, yin yoga, ecstatic dance, yoga nidra, restorative yoga, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), with time for reflection, massage, adventure, fishing, hiking, hanging out with new and old friends, and soaking to your heart’s content absorbing all the healing benefits of the mineral enriched waters. This is a gift of divine pleasure that has far reaching effects not only for you, but for those you love and want to serve well: you can only give away what you yourself possess. This is recharge, this is strength, this is delight in a weekend away. Find the full details when they become available here .

Have you done Yoga Nidra before? Has it been beneficial for you? Let me know, in person, or below!

Namaste my friend.

 

What men want 

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In my yearning to learn and grow and understand how the world works, my role in it, and how my desires might be better fueled with this enlightenment, I’ve been passionately expanding my breath of knowledge about how relationships between men and women work best. To date, one of the most helpful and profound gifts I’ve received was a video titled “A Plea to Women” from John Wineland. I have listened and watched this video over the past 9 months to the point where I have it nearly memorized, but, it’s not just his words that are so dynamic, it’s his heart. Each passionate syllable he speaks awakens within me the divine goddess called woman that I am and it hasn’t been easy. This is edgy work!  I’ve grown more and more in touch with my femininity and what that looks like for me and the men (and other women!) in my life.

Here are my notes from “A Plea to Women” video. Welcome to the awakening:

1. Celebrate the differences between men and women. Find my curiosity and playfulness within this. Have fun with our differences!

2. Know that my man loves range. He craves range! Let myself be the sassy co-ed, the divine light and mother, and the cock-worshipping whore.

3. What works well in business and at work is not the same as what helps a relationship be successful. My man doesn’t want to know what book to read or what therapist he should see. He wants my vulnerability. He wants to hear how he has disappointed me or how sad I am about his action(s). He wants to hear and feel my heart so he can get the chance to be my hero.

4. Even if I’m super angry at him, find something in him that I trust and love. Honor him with that.

5. Be angry! Don’t settle for his bullshit.

6. Surrender to him. Find ways to trust him, let go, and as some men would call it, be submissive…..

7. Flow, open, and move my body. Connect with the womanly art of passion and desire while moving. “Less tough mudder, more sacred dance.” As the song says: there’s something in the way she moves, not in the way she thinks.

8. Slow down: how I speak, how I move.

9. I more often want more, while he more often wants less, so pause and feel first, before I give him what I want to give him. Listen and tap into my intuition, not logic, with him and our relationship.

10. Love him with the same amount of energy that I used when I was angry.

11. My man wants to love me well. He is dying to love me well, but he is different, think simple.

12. I have every right to be angry at the centuries of oppression, at the over-sexulatization of our culture, at the abuse, but the question is now: what do I want to create? I have been given a new beginning, what do I want to create with my man, because he wants to create with me.

What I’ve found most helpful is to not try to get this “right”, but instead, to be open and communicative as I work these truths out in and for myself, both with my girl friends and my guy, and humbly ask for help. With the world having oppressed women for so long, we are just beginning to see the light as to how much so and who we really are as women, and what that looks like for each of us as individuals. We are products of our environment and we can stay that way, or we can overcome. The more I delve into the divine feminine the more good fruit I see and feel within and around me, so, I believe it’s worth it.

Can you feel it? Does this ring true in the deepest part of yourself?

Enjoy the journey. This. This what our life is about.

Swamping: getting real with repressed emotions

Do the holidays bring up s*it for you? Do you get frustrated or angry or depressed or emotional during this time of year? Does Christmas not really feel like all the Facebook posts of smiling faces and exuberant joy? Good. That’s a start to your new beginning: honesty. (and if none of this is true for you, good for you, too!)

We feel emotions. We have emotions. We experience emotions. It doesn’t mean we are any less than, or that we shouldn’t be feeling such emotions. Nope. It simply means we are feeling. We are alive! What we do with these emotions is the important part. Acknowledging and awareness is the first step. If one doesn’t acknowledge s/he has feelings (so called good or so called bad feelings), then one cannot do anything with them. And if you or I are experiencing emotions we no longer want to feel, then there are tools to release them. One such tool I use is called swamping.

Swamping is a way to release the stored energy of an emotion and/or experience. In the past, I have used my yoga mat or my foam roller and beat it against my doorway and thrown it on the floor, sometimes yelling, sometimes crying, sometimes grunting, just being real with what I’m feeling and without judgement, voicing my frustration, anger, hate, disdain, or whatever else arises. With no one around, I let myself be weird. I let myself go (safely of course, but even then, I find the edge, and let go), I let myself be loud, I let myself be all the things that “I’m not supposed” to be, and it is one freeing experience!

Last night, Christmas night, I was so frustrated with having to reconcile my finances (and hear me, it has NOTHING to do with my finances!!! it has everything to do with repressed emotions towards math homework growing up!) I was so frustrated that I was hyperventilating and shaking. I was annoyed at a friend of mine for not responding to me at exactly the time I wanted her to, I was annoyed that I couldn’t be outside and hiking or adventuring or exploring, I was annoyed that I was annoyed, and then I knew, it was time to swamp. I began with writing about my anger, and reading each word, with emotion, out loud, and then scribbling into my journal until the pages tore, then I chucked my pen at the journal, the floor, the dresser, over and over again until it broke and I started envisioning plastic shards flying into my eye, so I stopped and switched to a slipper, but I was throwing it so hard against the floor, that I switched to an already falling apart slipper and let every. Emotion. Rise. Up. And I threw and I growled and I said every thing that felt good: LETTING IT GO! Foam pieces flew across the floor and I threw it again with my left arm, then both, then my right, until, I knew I was done.

My voice horse, my body trembling, I laid back on my bed, and, I just was. I let myself be. I watched thoughts arise. I felt the quiet calm return. I regrouped as a new me. I found peace, on Christmas night.

A meditation practice is a solid foundation to have before attempting to do this alone. Not everyone is ready to face such deeply held emotions, and especially alone. You can begin your meditation practice here. Also, having a good girl friend (or guy if you’re a guy) to talk with after is extremely helpful, someone you can trust, or who you can just be real with as you own your truth, someone who you understand isn’t your savior but a guide to assist your healing. Therapists are also helpful, as are specific events designed to hold a sacred space for you to process: I am offering one in June of 2017. Learn more about it and join me: here. Yoga Nidra’s can also help you access deeply held subconscious patterns and in a more gentle way. Practice and learn more about yoga nidra here.

God wouldn’t have given us emotions if we weren’t supposed to feel them. Holding on to them (subconsciously or consciously) is the problem. You, I, we are not defined by our emotions, we just have them. Let them flow, let them go, and let’s enjoy this wild ride we call life!

xoxo


Photo by the incredible Tara Huff, on another adventure of emotional heights. Worth every moment, as I step into more and more and greater and greater freedom. Muah!

Sacred Pleasure: holy exploration

Babies flirt and we find it adorable and good. Flirting = being turned on in the presence of others. And as it is for babies, it is natural, pure, and holy. Sexuality is power and as we own our own, we can embrace our God-given divinity as a sensual creature, light up the world, and live in abundance and success.

You can only give (to your children, husband/boyfriend, work, etc.), what you yourself possess. Come rejuvenate and heal your whole self, with care, with a community of like-minded women in this sacred act of pleasure. Full details and registration can be found at https://audreydelongyoga.com/special-events-2/

This pic is from my El Camino trip in September, taken during a time I felt bold enough to show myself as a woman. I even still feel fear as I post this pic, but that’s the point: I choose to not let fear hold me back and my work then inspires you to do the same. You can feel this difference. I’m not trying to manipulate you or make you feel small, I’m empowering you. This. This will be us together: empowerment to own your womanly-ness and then showcase it with holy reverence for all to admire and get turned on by.

It’s been a journey for me to embrace my womanly beauty and feel comfortable in it enough to show it off, but I’ve been embracing the discomfort and found incredible healing: my own and yours. Come with me as we go deep, deep into the divine art of woman.

What to wear for winter SUP and SUP Yoga

On Water Yoga February 7, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

Here in Redding, California, I hold SUP and SUP Yoga classes year-round. The weather is pretty great, with us living in the second sunniest city in the country (according to US News), and on the days that it is cloudy or raining, I’ve got some adventurers who still want to come out, so we do! The question is then, what does one wear in the colder, wetter, fall, winter, and even spring months? Here are my suggestions:

  1. NO COTTON: if you are a hiker, backpacker, camper, or general outdoors man or woman, you probably already know this. The standard line is “cotton kills.” When cotton gets wet, it stays wet and takes a long, long time to dry. This is very unpleasant on a colder day and one where we are so close to the water. Nearly any other fabric is better: silk, wool, acrylic, linen, polyester, etc.
  2. LAYERS: wear any stretchy, non-constricting, athletic clothing, in layers. When paddling and doing yoga on a paddleboard, you will get warm, and you can always remove your hat or gloves or outer jacket and set it on top of your SUP, under the bungees, or with your lifejacket, then reapply when you need it again/cool down. Do keep in mind that when buying outer layers, you will want them large enough to accommodate all the layers you have underneath, so you may want to size up and down depending on how close to your body the layers are. Some things I suggest to bring and have with you:
    • gloves/mittens
    • beanie, ball cap, ear warmers/headband, or hat of some kind
    • surf booties, wool socks, waterproof socks, or a non-cotton slipper of some kind
    • fleece lined yoga or running pants
    • long johns to layer underneath a pair of yoga pants, or double up on your yoga pants and wear two at a time
    • rain pants (nice to have and slip off and on as needed)
    • light rain jacket (buy this in a slightly larger size so you can wear layers underneath, and for freer movement)
    • long-sleeve and/or short-sleeve shirt, or tank top
    • bikini top and bottoms (yup, with that sun, sometimes ALL the layers come off and it’s nice to soak it in!)
    • you could always get separate wetsuit pieces: top and bottoms, and wear them as needed; here in Redding, we haven’t needed it in the 5-years I’ve been teaching, but in San Francisco, they use these. All. The. Time.
    • outer layer jacket or light down jacket (one that allows movement)
    • fleece or middle layer jacket
    • vest (perhaps the best option for yoga: with the thermals and fleece underneath, the vest allows unrestricted movement for yoga and paddling!)
  3. BRING A DRY CHANGE OF CLOTHES: in 5-years, I have only had 1 student slip into the water in the winter (up to the waist), so I can’t promise it won’t happen, and even if it doesn’t, sometimes water splashes onto your SUP and you get your knees wet or you step into the water, accidentally, as you are loading your SUP and your ankles get wet. So, it’s nice to have that dry pair of clothes waiting for you in the car as you load up. OR bring a dry bag with you on your SUP and put in a few extra layers and have a dry space to put them when you take them off as you warm up.

You can get a good idea of what I and other’s have worn during SUP and SUP Yoga, in all seasons, with this video here.

Winter SUP Yoga is not only possible, it’s FUN! It’s an invigorating experience that charges you with energy and refreshment. The long winter months can get rough, but you don’t have to suffer indoors. And, perhaps my favorite thing about the cooler months on the SUPs, no one else is on the water (well, actually, yesterday during my cloudy, 50-degree On Water Yoga class, there were two fishing boats on the lake, and a ski boat with a slalom skier! He was wearing a wetsuit and we laughed as we did Acro yoga on the SUPs and said: “What we are doing is tame in comparison! That water has to be in the mid-50’s!”)

Come on out and enjoy the great outdoors with SUP and SUP Yoga, year-round. Adventure awaits those brave enough to experience it. (Stable SUPs do make a substantial difference. If you are unsure about your board or wonder which one to purchase or rent, read my blog about the different SUP styles here.)

SUPing March 27, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

My Camino Experience

I sit here with tears streaming down my face as I re-read and remember my Camino experience, which I share below.  I spent 2-weeks hiking along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain in September and October of 2016 to raise funds for the non-profit Friends of Indreni. Our walk was specifically to fund a dorm in order to ensure the education of older children, since the distance is too far for them to travel. I was more than happy to help such a cause and teach therapeutic yoga to the rest of the Camino travelers in my group.

So, here it is, My Camino Experience:

Challenging has been the most frequent word I have used when I talk about our 2-week Camino pilgrimage, challenging, but I would do it all over again, in a heart-beat. There is nothing like this path; walked upon for 1000s of years by people of differing faiths and ages, a variety of languages heard by people all there for different reasons, yet, we are together. A comradery exists with Camino pilgrims, those on the path with you in the moment, and those you meet after it’s completed. It takes a unique individual to willingly choose to hike 12+ miles a day, with little to no rest days, putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again for 8 or more hours a day, up and down 1000s of feet of elevation, meandering around cows and their cow-pies, scampering over slippery shale and rocks, placing one foot in front of the other along miles and miles of pavement and lush green fields, over mountain tops and through valleys; it takes someone willing to go beyond the easy, a seeker of significance and greater meaning, someone looking for truth. I found this, and so much more on the Camino. It was challenging, for obvious reason, but also because I’ve had a leg injury that has kept me from walking much farther than from my front door to my car for a few years now, and yet, I walked the Camino (or about 120 of the 160 miles); and, I am all the stronger for it. Sometimes, we really can do more than we ever think possible or imaginable, even with a lot of pain. This experience was worth every headache, each discomfort, each twinge of pain (mental and physical), because, really it’s not about me (or you) anyway, there’s a bigger reason for it all. Sometimes we have to get uncomfortable and placed in challenging situations to see how great we, and life, really are. This. This was the Camino for me. So, I’m now left wondering, when are we doing it again?! I’m up for teaching yoga again along this magical sojourning. Want to join?

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Meditations & Dreams

Last night I dreamt that I boldly asked a random, middle-aged, guy at an event, with all my friends and family around, to take a few hits off his cigar. It was wonderful: to so confidently and assuredly ask this stranger if I could share his cigar and smoke it. He had already put it out and I had to relight it, furthering my assertiveness and elongating him and others observing my behavior. Although he was slightly surprised by my asking, he had an air of awe at my boldness and I knew he was happy to oblige my courage. The cigar was wonderful and although I will share a cigar every now-and-then with friends, in real life, I woke today knowing that the cigar had a deeper meaning, and so, as the aware dream interpreter that I am, I Googled it: “To see or dream that you are smoking a cigar represents a relaxed state of mind. You are in control of your own emotions and passions.” (dreammoods.com) This. This couldn’t be a more encouraging or affirming symbol for all the hard work I’ve done, breakthrough I’ve gained, and path I still have to walk. And so, it became my mantra for my meditation this morning: “I am in control of my emotions and passions.”

There’s so much more to say about this point in my life, but I think I’ll end with this: we have dreams and emotions and passions and hurts and joys and each other (friends and family) and they are all good and true and worthwhile, but none of these things define us, we are not any of these things or experiences, we simply are.

I am.

Namaste my friends. ❤️

Be an aid to your healing

As someone who has been sick, injured, and recovering for most of my adult life, and as someone who likes to learn, I’ve never just accepted what someone said to be a “cure” as final truth. This isn’t always good, but for you, now, it is. I want to share with you some of my lessons learned so you can be an aid to your own healing.

Our body’s hurt and ache for a reason. Every time we try to “pray away” the pain, take a pill to silence it, or push past the pain and “suck it up,” we are telling our body to “Shut up! You are getting in my way! I don’t care what you have to say. I want you to do this, now!” This will not produce the healing that we want.

There is a time and place for each of these things (prayer, medicine, moving forward) and they are extremely helpful tools for healing, but, the next time you get a pain, feel a hurt, experience a headache, stop, and pause. Before you again kneel down to pray, before you again reach for that bottle of pain killers, before you again push through, pause. Ask yourself why are you doing this? Take a moment and actually ask the body what it needs, what would nourish it, what would feed it, what would heal it? Take a moment to listen to the body speaking it’s hurts and pains. Often, a simple answer comes: limit the coffee intake, eat organic, sleep more, exercise, yoga, meditate, spend time listening and sitting in the silence. Some pains are much more complex but I believe we know this too, when we take the time to pause and listen, asking the body what it needs. Those fears that we may experience are again, the body speaking. If you feel this fear, or any other emotion, pause, notice it, know that it’s a feeling, and ask again, what do you need, body? Stop, listen. Then, go and see a doctor, a chiropractor, a psycho-therapist, get a massage, try acupuncture, detox, practice yoga nidra (at home), take supplements. Follow through on what you know to be stirring in your heart and mind, through your body.

Be open to the leadings of the body. Let the journey of life be just that, a journey. Pause, listen to that still, small voice, and let humility rise. The body is intelligently designed by a God that loves it as part of a whole. We are triune beings: body, mind, and spirit, and like a 3-legged stool, when the legs are uneven, we will not be balanced and function well. This body sends hurt and pain signals to the brain highlighting that something is wrong. Take a moment to listen, and then, act.

In time, the perfect time, as we continue to pause and listen, as we slow down, the healing and wholeness that the body, and God, have been longing for, all along, will come.

Enjoy the journey. Namaste.