What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep. A deep and healing reprieve, this guided meditation helps us access the place between wakefulness and sleep. Nidra allows us to heal the subconscious mind from past hurts, fears, and traumas, harmonizing the subconscious with the conscious, making everyday life easier, more fulfilling and rewarding. Yoga Nidra balances the nervous system and reduces stress through simple relaxation techniques while you settle back in a nest of props (or perhaps your bed or couch 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 the whole time, or you fall fast asleep right away. Whatever happens is exactly right and the beauty of this quiet and gentle practice: it’s about restoring, letting things be as they are, and taking rest, finding solace within.

I myself do these regularly; when I need an afternoon pick me up, 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. 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. Available on iTunes or Amazon, here, receive an in-depth, 20-minute explanation of the when, where, why, and how of Yoga Nidra when you purchase the entire digital CD. Enjoy the benefits of this healing tool anytime, anywhere, and as your schedule allows from any device.

2. Attend my weekly Yoga Nidra & Restorative Yoga group class and get the added benefit of a Restorative Yoga practice. Restorative Yoga is simple yoga postures held for long periods of time with the gentle assist of a lot of props (learn more about the practice here). This class is an hour and 15-minute opportunity to balance our fast paced life, providing an enormous capacity to heal physical and mental stresses. 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 Shiva/Shakti Hot Springs Retreat. Here we find solace, healing, rest, and fun in one of my most favorite places 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.

 

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.

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.

4 reasons why to go on a yoga retreat

There is something special about traveling, even just a little ways from home, and embarking on new adventures. A yoga retreat can offer many new and exciting experiences but true to the spirit of yoga, it can be the much needed refreshment and rejuvenation that one needs in our fast paced lives. After my first yoga retreat experience, I was immediately inspired to host my own and offer this incredible gift to those that I love and teach. A yoga retreat can truly be a life changing experience and one I hope you get to know. Here’s a few reasons why yoga retreats are so wonderful and why I think you’d like them:

1. It’s about rejuvenation. 

However long or short, a yoga retreat gets us out of the familiar: patterns, surroundings, habits, and offers us the chance to slowdown, breathe, to look at what’s truly important and to be. With this new perspective, we find appreciation for the simple and a refreshment from the everyday, only to gain the reminder just how amazing every day truly is.

2. We meet new, like-minded friends. 

I’ve traveled alone to nearly every yoga retreat I’ve attended and I’ve made some deep and lasting friendships, friendships that are some of the most special and important to me now. A yoga retreat brings together people who care about growing in the yogic principles of compassion, truthfulness, giving, awareness, equanimity, purity, contentment, cleansing/health, consciousness, and celebration of the spiritual (this list is of the yamas and niyamas: part of the yogic path developed 1000’s of years ago). Coming together, with people you know or don’t know and sharing in this beautiful growth, can be very impactful and lasting.

3. We can take our yoga practice deeper. 

A retreat offers the opportunity to dive in and focus and practice meditation, pranayama/breath, and asana/physical postures without the distractions of kids or work or our spouse or the laundry. We can go deep and build new habits, all while a safe and supportive environment, and usually in a beautiful(!) setting. During a yoga retreat, we can truly experience, yoga: union.

4. A yoga retreat is a time for you. 

We can only be as strong for others as we, ourselves, are strong. You work hard and give a lot. A yoga retreat is a much needed and restorative break, so you can go back, able to give more, ans be healthier and happier for those you love and work with on a daily basis. A yoga retreat is just as much for you as it is for those around you.

I host several retreats a year. Join me, or find your own, and enjoy this rich gift.

xoxo

The journey: yoga retreating

Life: so much easier when we figure out that it doesn’t have to all be be figured out and we embrace the journey as the destination. This past weekend was this practice for me, in depth.

My meditation this Monday morning was on the truth: “I can stand on my own two feet.” This weekend, I attended a yoga retreat and it was challenging. Challenging for me in many ways, none of which was (really) tied to the yoga asana. A friend and I were going to go together, but she had to cancel at the last minute because her boyfriend’s mom died, which is horrible and yucky anyway, but this also left me driving the 5.5 hours to Yosemite National Park alone, to a retreat with complete strangers. Usually, this is fine, I do things by myself all the time, but it hit me this weekend, and it hit me hard. Given the circumstances, I felt sad, upset, and irritated. Then my left leg, which has been hurting pretty substantially off and on for the past 3 years, gave me excruciating pain and limited my movement to a slow crawl, unless I took pain meds. The pain was so severe, I was physically exhausted and had to skip most of the yoga classes because I was in tears, drained to the point of unable to speak coherently, even with the pain medicine. 

My personal meditation today is a continuation of the truth’s I learned at this weekend’s yoga retreat and shows me again that we may think we have xyz skill or quality or belief all figured out, but that’s a lie. We are always on a journey of growth, healing, and enlightenment. If we don’t believe we are, we are severely deceived and self righteous. 
More often than not, it’s only when we get into uncomfortable (slightly or severely) positions, that we grow. Otherwise, we humans are smart, and there’s no reason to change!

Have you been on a yoga retreat? I’ll be going on another April 29 – May 1, 2016, but this time, I’m leading it. It’s a Hot Springs, Yin/Yang Yoga Retreat in Cedarville, CA

Just imagine: relaxing, recharging, and doing yoga at a luxurious resort, surrounded by high mountains, breathing in the crisp, fresh air, and soaking in your own private hot springs hot tub. 

Registration and full details are under the Special Events tab.

Growth is sometimes hard, but really, it’s not about me, anyway. My pain, is your gain, and this is true for all of us. The more that we grow and get outside our familiar surroundings, the more that we will change not only our own internal environment, but we will change the environment around us, and in this world.

Growth happens when we step outside the familiar and plus, it’s a whole lot of fun to getaway and meet new and like-minded people. I’d love to see you at the Hot Springs Yin/Yang Yoga Retreat in April. Let me know if you have any questions and namaste my friend, I bow to you. We are all in this together.

P.S. my leg doesn’t hurt much at all today. #worthit

xoxo

How to change the world


For as long as I can remember, my goal in life has been to make the world a better place: to change the world, and for the 39 years of my life, I have been seeking to pursue this goal. Through friendships, family, intimate relationships, work, schooling, yoga, cancer, meditation, God, the church, food, artistry, photography, writing, etc. I have found the same theme: I cannot change the external, the only constant in it all, is me. This is who and what needs to change.

What’s been incredible is that through each of my ventures, they have all schooled me in how to do this. From the boyfriend who told me “just go with the flow Audrey!”, to the yoga training that taught me that we are all individual water drops in the ocean (of life: we are one), to my days as an EMT and ski patroller that emphasized we cannot help someone else until we ourselves are safe, to my need for my parents to love me but in their imperfect humanness being unable to show it as I needed; all this pointed to the same variable: me, and my opportunity to grow.

All these experiences showed me that it was my own, internal beliefs that were limiting me and holding me back from accomplishing my goal, and from Goodness itself. I cannot change anyone else but I can change me.

Sometime ago I intrinsically learned this and my life has been about working to accomplish a place of stability in this: to reach an internal place where I feel safe most of the time. To reach a place where I feel loved, regardless of who loves me or is nice to me or believes what I am doing is right. To reach a place of internal joy so solid I truly feel happy most of the day, regardless of what happens or doesn’t. I’m closer to these eternal riches today more than ever before, and I like it. This is how I change the world: I change me.

The specifics of how we each impact and change the world vary, but the underlying theme is the same. What and who we are, what we believe, what we carry in our heart’s, is all felt, seen, heard, and experienced through each conversation, in our actions, our purchases, our decisions, and our reactions, and this is the work we are to do. This is how we change the world: we change ourselves.

The good news is: you are changing the world, with each moment you breathe. What you do, say, believe, and even think, is changing the world. How you change the world is your choice. I, personally, choose Goodness.

wheels, chakras, the universe, dancing shiva, creation

This is another spoil/pic from this weekend’s Hot Springs Yoga Retreat with my friend Shiva Reinhardt in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I am forever changed by this epic retreat and am now seriously contemplating getting my 300 hours of yoga teacher training to become a 500-hour RYT with the same woman that Shiva trained with for her 500 hour. The style of yoga Shiva teaches is unlike any I’ve experienced and it spoke to my heart and spirit like living water for my soul. It brought a wholeness my yoga practice has been looking for. My friend Shiva has a wide influence of training, but this weekend we specifically practiced Prana Vinyasa Flow: Prana meaning the vital-life-force or creator or God, Vinyasa meaning movement synchronized with breath/energy, and Flow meaning a state of unified awareness or consciousness/enlightenment. This awareness on Prana (God) combined with a lunar (meaning of a feminine quality, gentle, beautiful, graceful) and solar (meaning active, strong, a masculine quality) asana focused practice was delicious! I want more!!!

Besides my now newfound love for Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga, I wanted to briefly share my knowledge about the sculpture behind me called Nataraja or Shiva, the lord/king of the dance.

Primarily from the book “Myths of the Asana: the Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition” I’ve learned that the Shiva is one of the god’s in the Hindu trinity. Shiva is often depicted in statue form (pictured here), dancing on a dwarf, with snakes around his neck, dreadlocks sticking out from his head, and encircled by a ring of fire, as an image to convey compassion: a contradiction for those who hunger and thirst for understanding/rightehousness (Matthew 5:6). Shiva represents the ability to turn ages to moments, so that although the days may sometimes feel long and difficult, they are but a passing glimpse in eternity. In one of Shiva’s hands, he holds a drum, signaling death and rebirth, which he beats fast. Shiva dances to his own music within a circle of flame known as samsara. Samsara is likened to the cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and thus, reincarnation. Another way to describe samsara is: patterns and habits in our live’s, some of which can inhibit us. For Shiva, dance serves to help him find the rhythm amidst this spinning karmic cycle of samsara and he is unafraid of this building wheel of fire and flame, he in untroubled.

The snakes around Shiva’s neck are metaphors for the power we humans have, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and as such, our divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) to overcome. The yoga tradition recognizes that our misunderstanding as something other than Divine will poison us with ignorance. We practice the yoga tools of asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) to remember our enlightened state of Divinity.

The dwarf that Shiva dances upon is the demon of ignorance/ego/selfishness who causes us to become caught up in our own personal and daily life and goings on, busy-ness and drama. Shiva demonstrates that we humans can use the demonic for good (Genesis 50:20) and crush it with our heels (Romans 16:20). Shiva takes a higher gaze (Psalm 123:1) and uses this dwarf as a pedestal for his dance, elevating his consciousness, rising himself above his daily life, dancing with the rhythm of the universe/God, as if lead by Holy Spirit.

Shiva shows that life is cyclical and all that is born also dies. With the understanding that destruction makes the way for rebirth and in rebirth and growth, compassion comes. Shiva is the destroyer so that the Hindu god Brahma can create and rebuild new and fertile life.

The story of Shiva is that of freedom: going with the flow of life (Holy Spirit) and the truth that nothing is permanent. Shiva dances out of liberation and shows us that we can overcome fear. Shiva rides the wave of change, attaining bliss. The scientific law of conservation of mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, meaning that to make something new, something old must be destroyed. Shivas demonstrates that to create change, new life and freedom, we have to destroy social norms, old ways of thinking, and patterns that no longer serve us. So, if we truly want change and growth, we must embrace a little death and destruction.

Coincidentally, I chose to take a deep backbend for this picture. Backbends are very opening, vulnerable, and they can be scary. We often hold fear in our hearts. As we open our hearts, physically and emotionally, we have an opportunity to let go of fear and grow. This retreat was much of that for me and this Shiva statue serves to remind me of my divinity, my humility, my power, and that as I look toward heaven, I can dance with the rhythm of the Holy Spirit and have fun on this journey called life, while holding compassion for others in each of their’s.

Dance on my friends. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor….

Namaste!

Meditation: faith, breath, and trust

Meditation focused on the breath used to bring me a lot of anxiety, agitation, frustration, fear, and a feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin. There was an underlying feeling of control and lack-there-of, with this style of meditation, so I usually avoided it. Instead I would meditate on a word, a verse, being in nature, or I used actions like washing dishes, singing, and yoga to bring me into the present moment, these were things I could control. Just recently, however, I came across some info that explained that breath-focused-meditation literally demonstrates that we are not in control: the breath is something that changes and morphs with each moment in quality, depth, sound, sensation, inside of us/from us/through us, so using breath-focused-meditation is a technique to build trust and let go. Breath-focused-meditation therefore builds faith: we face fears head-on, we surrender to the Divine, we work through struggles, and with regularity, the breath shows us that moments and life change but we will be ok, transformation happens and we can move with this flow of breath and life, if we so choose. This simple explanation has changed everything for me and now I’m longing to use breath as my meditative focal point.

For so long I’ve been trying to control my thoughts in breath-focused-meditation, violently pushing thoughts away and forcing myself to “come back to the breath,” pushing thoughts away and chastising myself to “stay present.” This was my way of control, or should I say, lack of trust, and thus I built anxiety, frustration, and discomfort. It’s no wonder I didn’t like this style of meditation! Now that I realize breath is the physical representation of faith, of the Divine, I’m experiencing a subtle shift and I’m letting go, trusting. In my meditation practice when I notice the feeling of anxiety I pause, and take a step back, and gently and easily turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice feelings of frustration, I pause and acknowledge these feelings, I take a step back and gently turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice thoughts racing through my mind, I pause, I take a step back, and easily turn my attention back to the breath and I become present. Instead of forcefully pushing thoughts away and chastising myself, I acknowledge these thoughts and feelings: I call them out and literally label them “thinking,” “feelings,” or “judgement,” and maybe most significantly, I step back and observe. As I separate myself from the thoughts, I then gently come back to the breath and the flow of it, and I build faith, I build a deeper connection with the Lord. With this subtle practice, I come back to the moment, this one right now, and I center myself with grace and ease on this flow. This stepping back and separating my identity from thought, this stepping back and separating myself from feelings, this stepping back and trusting in the breath and flow of life has made all the difference and my practice builds peace. This watching, observing, and acknowledgment of thinking and feeling loosens the hold my mind tries to have on my spirit and soul. This stepping back and witnessing breath is building a harmony in my triune being and I am loving the effects.

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