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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: healing

Evolving yoga & the bodysoul

Katie Gordon

A friend and I were walking and talking the other day about how, as teachers, both our yoga practice and the way we approach teaching has evolved. I came to yoga during college after leaving ballet. I had struggled with bulimia and anorexia for years, but even more than that, I felt mentally, emotionally, and physically rigid. I was stuck in this foreign body that I had numbed and quieted for so long, I no longer knew how to hear the voice of my soul or feel my physical body enough to even know when something was wrong. So I stumbled/dragged myself into a yoga studio around the corner from my apartment in Boston's Back Bay, started teaching awhile later, and discovered a world I saw as completely opposite from my rigid, extreme, self-loathing reality. And unlike the pain and exhaustion of ballet, I had found something that made me feel literally high afterward. Plus it's healthy (both physically and mentally), it's great exercise (they don't call it a yoga butt for nothing), and I felt good about myself as a person, justified in my somewhat-self-righteous approach to the yoga-raw food-vegan-sattvic-clean-eating lifestyle because I'm doing something "of value" and teaching people how to feel better, right? Now I see all I had done was carry that same rigidity, the same self-imposed rules into a new setting.

And then I got disillusioned with the whole thing. I got bored. I got injured. I wasn't down with paying $100 for a pair of yoga pants. I got tired of feeling burnt out after teaching SO much and struggling to pay my bills. Seriously, if you want to be a "successful" yoga teacher (and they're out there!) you gotta hustle. You gotta have passion. And I didn't. My body hurt, I could barely make rent, I didn't even have the time or energy or desire to maintain my own practice. So I said f*ck this.

I gave up trying to survive by teaching and I got a "real job." You know the whole work 9-5, wear "professional" clothes, get a paycheck every 2 weeks, have health insurance, work in an office kinda job. This was that stage in my practice when I was so happy to NOT stress out about money/survival/my-family-thinks-I'm-a-total-failure that you'll do anything for this new job. And don't get me wrong, the company I worked for is GREAT! They treat their employees better than any I've seen. The people there are wonderful. But my connection to my wild soul was fading. And my physical body was like, "How can you possibly have a job where you're sitting at a computer all day??!! Have I taught you nothing??"

During this time my practice taught me to slow down. Because of injuries, I couldn't do everything I used to be able to do. I had to be super mindful, take my time, and listen to my body in a way I never have. I felt like because I no longer had to depend on yoga to make a living, I could make it all about me. What I needed, wanted, craved in terms of movement. How my bodysoul needed to manifest herself. And through that work, it became increasingly clear that, even though I was comfortable & happy enough, I wasn't living my full truth or my soul's purpose in the world.

So when the opportunity arrived, I left. I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I'd wanted to live since I was a kid (after watching The Goonies. Because pirate caves.) and where I could focus solely on my little business. And since Wild Grace is an extension of me, it became VERY clear that to have an abundant business, I needed to cultivate a healthier mind-body-soul connection. For me, even though I hated to admit it for awhile, the way in to that connection was through my yoga practice. It forced me to sit, breathe, be, and listen. It showed me how to deeply honor my body when I was practicing honestly and from a place of love for myself.

As I was preparing to teach a demo class in my new home town, I realized my yoga practice and what it meant to me had changed because my relationship with my body had changed. Because of the way I used to practice, always pushing myself, forcing myself further into poses, to keep going even if practicing didn't feel good or if I was hurt, my body had finally had enough and my practice HAD to change.

You're probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But really, I could finally see clearly how the way I felt in my body, the way I surrendered to my body, the way I saw it, felt it, heard it. The way I allowed it space. The way I honored the open spaces and the tense, closed, traumatized spaces had shifted in each stage of both my ego & soul growth. And because of that I was finally allowing my body to evolve rather than stay within a "safe" range of weight and shape. I was allowing my soul to expand, to be her brilliant & bright self. Where there was once a major disconnect between my soul's desire for compassion and self-love and my mind's need for some semblance of control, now there's just (for the most part) quiet, space, and a deep honoring of the way it sometimes all has to play out so that we can actually learn how to get out of our own way and meaningfully make something of ourselves.

And so I guess when you can finally let go of your opinion of the yoga industry, your fear of not being "good enough," the constant need to compare yourself as a teacher and student, and the competition for classes, all that's left is your relationship to your body (physical and energetic) and the practice of showing up each day to be with yourself.

Autumn Equinox Tea Blend

Katie Gordon

flower ribs

Now that fall has FINALLY arrived here in Southern California (it actually rained twice!), I've been feeling the effects of cool, dry weather and feeling a little ungrounded and frazzled as so often happens in seasonal transitions.  My joints are a little creaky, my skin is dry, my mind is all over the place, and my hands and feet are ALWAYS cold.  So I've been experimenting a bit with herbs to soothe my skin and nervous system. Teas are the oldest form of medicine, as well as my favorite because it allows me time to slow down, acknowledge that I'm taking action to care for myself.  For me, making my tea has become a necessary daily self-care ritual.  It's my sacred alone time, and when I don't get it, I can get a little cranky, like a kid who needs a nap.   Whether my tea is a strong cup of black tea with some cream and honey, a subtle green tea with hints of linden blossoms, or an herbal blend that I'm experimenting with, one cup of of tea is a true medicine, not only because of  the power held in these plants, but in the love and energy I pour into that cup along with the tea.

This blend is full of herbs to keep you grounded and warm.  It is soothing to your nervous system, tonifies and aids fluid movement in your body, and gently strengthens immune and respiratory function.

All of these herbs can either be found in your kitchen or in the bulk herb section of your health food/herb shop.  I try to either grow or wildcraft my own herbs, but for the ones I can't, I order from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They're an awesome resource for wildcrafted and organic herbs in bulk!

Blend the following herbs:

  • 1 part Rooibos or Twig Tea (of course you can sub black or green tea for a caffeine kick)
  • 1 part Nettles
  • 1 part Chamomile
  • 1/2 part Cinnamon
  • 1/2 part Ginger
  • 1/2 part Licorice
  • 1/4 part Sage
  • 1/4 part Orange Peel

To dress it up a bit, try adding dried bits of apple, cranberry, raspberry, or any other fruit.

The great thing about tea is that you can make the blends your own, so feel free to add, leave out, or substitute to your heart's desire.

Heal Your Money Sh*t - Step 1: Release

Katie Gordon

Dear lightworkers, teachers, coaches, healers, and counselors, How is your relationship with money?  Complicated?  Unhealthy?  Elusive?

For my entire life without realizing it I felt like money wasn’t for me.  Everyone else could have it, make it, save it, but not me.  I was destined to always just be scraping by, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and never able to afford the life that I dreamed of where I could travel the world AND still be able to do exactly the work I wanted to and that I was called to do.  In my mind, the alternative to being broke was to slave away at an office job that I hated for the rest of my life.

In our society, and especially in the healing arts world, it’s not generally acceptable to want money.  I used to think that if I was meant to have money, it would come to me at the right time.  Therefore if I didn’t have money, I must be doing something wrong.  Maybe I’m not meant to do this work?  Maybe I suck at it?  Maybe I don’t know enough?  Maybe I’m not old enough to be living my dream life AND make money doing it?

So many questions!  I kept looking to the “authority figures” in my life: parents, teachers, mentors.  I kept getting the same answer in different forms: “Keep working hard and it’ll all work out…but maybe get another job just for right now…”  Very well meaning but not very helpful.  My friends and colleagues were in a similar situation.  We’re all trying to follow our BIG dreams, all the while struggling to pay our rent and feed ourselves.  So many of us are stuck in this poverty mentality, looking for ways to cut our already-relatively-low costs. (Yes, we eat at Whole Foods but we can make that bag of organic brown rice last for weeks!) At the same time I’d look at friends I graduated college with who were working in a more traditional career and were able to afford the things they needed but whose souls weren’t being fed.  I wondered what their dreams were made of.

But can you imagine what would happen if all the wealth of the world was in the hands of the spiritually-centered?  If people were able to live their dream life?  The one we’ve been told is out of our reach because we’re not following the traditional path from college graduation to a job with a salary and a 401k?  What if everything you dream for yourself is possible and it all starts with healing your money story?  What if the things you’ve believed about your inability to make money, your limiting beliefs, were UNTRUE and you could do something that honored your values, passions, and talents?  Something that feeds your soul and makes you as much money as you want?

The first step to healing your money drama and to start making real money and living your dream is by doing the inner work.  Recognize patterns that you’re stuck in.  Release your story and be done with it.  Stop being a victim of your money, because money is ENERGY.  Energy is not good or bad, it just is.  It’s not elusive.  There’s a flow, an exchange, like an inhale and exhale.  When we start feeling bad for spending money on things that support us (like healthy food and self-care), it creates a low-level vibration: shame.  It feels icky.  So here is my challenge to you.  Start noticing the stories, the thoughts, the patterns you have around money.  It can feel uncomfortable and scary at first.  There will be a voice telling you that your big dreams, your visions for the way you want your life to look aren’t possible.  It’s ok to be scared.  Do it anyway.  Many times this is your wounded child showing up, vulnerable and small, because that’s the only way we know.  When this happens, love him/her up instead of trying to push this discomfort away, and then merge this wounded child with your higher vision.  Give all your fear, vulnerability, and limiting beliefs up to the divine, and watch yourself take off.