Exciting changes, please look at the new class schedule under Events>Classes or click here
In my experiential anatomy classes, I often ask students to write a love letter to an orphaned or neglected part of their body. The purpose is to shift the relationship into one of appreciation and joy. Because that’s where the magic happens……
Here is a recent letter of my own, as I continue my personal journey of deep listening.
We’ve been together for a long time. I thought I knew you, but now I realize I was just scratching the surface. I see you with new eyes, I listen to you with new ears and I feel you in new ways. You are teaching me so much.
You have been very patient with me. Thank you for being there and never giving up on me.
I thought you were all about strength and core stability. I have flexed you and stretched you in oh so many ways, always looking for an optimal balance of strength and freedom. Now I am learning about how to release you. Time to let go.
You are my tenderloin, my filet mignon, my Chateaubriand. This is a most succulent cut of meat: it is juicy and delicious. I humbly apologize for misunderstanding you. I have spent years toughening you up and overworking you. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.
I have inadvertently saddled you with a lot of tensions. I didn’t know any better. I’ve held you tight during lunges and backbends, and I’ve stuffed anger and fear into your fibers in an effort to armour myself against emotional and psychological attack. Thank you for shielding me and holding me together while I worked things out.
I see that a new level of intimacy is called for, and it’s time for me to take loving care of you. I am grateful for the inspirations and resources that are presenting themselves to open the way. Over the last few days I have been introduced to the concept that your nature is to be soft and quiet. Some people call you the “muscle of the soul”. How beautiful is that! It speaks to your wisdom and power, and to a new paradigm. As I take a few baby steps towards understanding you better, and allow you time and space to soften, you reward me with such generosity. You gift me with a sensation of quiet, juicy spaciousness in my groins and deep abdomen. Tending your softness, I explore ways to move my thighs without disturbing my pelvis and lumbar spine. It feels so free! When I stand up, my legs feel like long ribbons that pour down from above. My quads feel longer and I feel sleeker. Walking feels fluid. My breath and mind are peaceful. I want to feel this way all the time.
I confess to feeling a little nervous about all of this too. I’m scared of losing our newfound sweetness together, and of falling back into old habits. One change sets off a cascade of other shifts and adjustments….what will the future hold? I already feel stirrings of connections to old holding patterns in my back just behind you, and I am noticing how different you are on the left and right sides. I’m excited to hear what my organs and nerves will have to say about all of this.
I sense we are embarking on a long, deep journey together. I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to find you. Please forgive me for the pain I’ve caused. Thanks for keeping me safe all these years. I love you and bless you.
yours in Love,
My original intention was to write something to honour the start of the Year of The Wood Horse, which promises to be an auspicious gallop into an exciting 2014. I wanted to include some of my experiences at Gateway Ranch near Kamloops, a healing facility based around a herd of remarkable equines. Alas, my journals were nowhere to be found….at least not at the moment. So those tales will have to wait. Luckily I have a year for this.
Instead, Ireland began to call. Memories of a lovely trip some years back starting bubbling up. I started bumping into all kinds of people with lilting melt-my-heart Irish accents, and FaceBook began to offer me special prices on jewelry based on St. Brigid’s cross. Which reminded me of how the Brigidine sisters in Kildare took me under their wing for a couple of days and taught me how to make such a cross from rushes gathered at their sacred well.
Looks like this story has its own flow. If you’ve ever seen “horse highways” in the wild, their travels are curved and winding, never linear. And there is a horsey subtext to all of this anyways, so away we go!
I no longer have the original cross, but my desire to replace it impelled me. I groom horses weekly at the Riding Academy, and decided it was likely I would find some appropriate straw there.
I was assigned Billy for grooming this week, and here’s a picture of this sweet and handsome chestnut gelding.
After massaging and brushing Billy, and picking out his hooves, I inspected his stall for straw that would be too tough for him to enjoy, but supple enough for my use. Billy was very interested in observing my handful of straw grow and took some time out from his grazing to act as supervisor! Thank you Billy.
At home, I soaked the straw in water to make it more pliable. I couldn’t quite remember how I made the original cross, but Goddess bless the internet . You can find instructions for everything there!
Here is the finished result:
And now some notes about the saint herself!
St. Brigid of Kildare (451-525) is an Irish saint renowned for her healing abilities, her faith and her feistiness. Her feast day is celebrated every Feb. 1, and she bridges Christianity and paganism. When I was in Ireland, I took the opportunity to visit many special sites associated with various local saints, big and small. Ireland is rich with these, but after a while it became all too clear to me that all of them were associated only with male saints. I love you gentlemen, but still I longed for a saint I could personally relate to. A little research uncovered the name of St. Brigid, the patroness of Ireland. Halleluia! And her home town was Kildare, my next stop.
At the town’s info center, I checked every book on saints for some juicy info on where to find St. B. The result: nothing, nary a word! I expressed my dismay to the store clerk, and asked if there was a convent in town dedicated to their namesake saint. “No” was the answer, but I was told that there was a Brigidine house a few blocks away where several of her nuns shared accommodations and spiritual practices. Away I went, and found the house. It was unmarked as such, but a small stained glass window of St. Brigid made me trust that I had found the right place. With no one home, I left a note and my contact info.
Bingo! The next day I was invited to join the sisters at St. Brigid’s sacred well and fire pit. I jumped at the chance, and was treated to a wonderful visit with three extraordinary women. The well and its stream were marked with seven stone crosses. The water that gurgled and bubbled through the stream had been used by St. Brigid for baptisms, and is still considered to be very healing, especially for ailments of the eyes. While there, a mother and father were gathering a bottle of this medicinal water to take home for their tiny daughter. The nuns showed me the fire pit they used for their ceremonies. It will be ablaze on Feb. 1, to mark both Brigid’s feast day, and the pagan festival of Imbolc, the springtime celebration of the Celtic year marking the passage from the dark half of the year to the bright half. Imbolc also commemorates “lambing”. (Isn’t that a lovely word? I just had to use it in a sentence.)
Here is a slightly random sampler of some of the tales and talents of St. Brigid of Kildare. I hope they will inspire you, as they do me. It is a treat to remember my visit, and to share stories about this extraordinary saint and woman.
Leadership: St. Brigid and two of her novices were invited to the home of a very, very poor family. The women of this family lovingly prepared a small dish of rich meat stew to honour their special guests. It happened to be Friday, a day of fasting from meat according to the Christian calendar, and the two novices were deeply offended by this sacrilege and begin to complain bitterly. Brigid pushed the nuns out of the house, to show them that love trumps the letter of the law. She continued to teach, and established monasteries and a school for the arts.
Keeper of the Flame: Brigid was raised by Druids and named after the goddess of fire. Fire is powerful, transformative and passionate. She learned the wisdom ways of Nature and paganism early in life, and was later inspired by the teaching of St. Patrick to become a Christian too. Brigid constantly braided and wove these two traditions together throughout her life, and she earned the title of the Keeper of the Sacred Flame of Kildare. She is patroness of the hearth and blesses the home fires to keep them burning, protects women in childbirth and brings the men-folk home from sea fishing. St. Brigid also established an eternal flame in Kildare to represent the Holy Spirit’s constant presence with people. In Chinese element theory, fire is the element related to the heart, the seat of love, compassion and connectivity.
Forward Movement: Picture this: Brigid, with her chariot and horse galloping together across the plains. Two manes, one tail and a cloak streaming behind them…. Leaving the past behind and flying forward fearlessly into the future, how exhilirating! And lovely synchronicity: the Chinese calendar celebrates the New Year of the Wood Horse on January 31, and one day later is the feast of St. Brigid. Out with the old and in with the new, with power and grace! (I told you there was a horsey subtext).
Healing: There are countless tales of Brigid’s healing miracles, extending even past her death. She was able to cure lepers, the blind and the deaf. People still offer prayers today for healing at the Sacred Well in Kildare, and tie ribbons around the twigs of a wishing tree to help the cures come true. She was well known for comforting the dying and soothing their hearts: one tale tells of a pagan chieftain (possibly her father) who was raving and writhing on his deathbed. Brigid sat down beside him and reached down to gather some rushes from the earthen floor. As she began to weave them together into a cross, she softly recounted stories of Christ and the saints. His delirium quieted, his heart opened and he asked to be baptized at the hour of his death. He passed from this life in a state of grace and peace, and this is the birth of St. Brigid’s cross.
Generosity: Even as a child, St. Brigid was renowned for her compassion to the poor. She gave away a priceless jeweled sword that belonged to her father in order to buy food for the hungry. St. Brigid performed miracles of turning water into milk, manifesting butter, and of multiplying food. Her kindness extended to dogs, sheep and cattle. She was the consummate shepherdess, aiding cattle and sheep in matters of lactation and fertility. When Brigid needed some land on which to build a school, she asked one of the chieftains to help her. He laughingly said he would gift her as much land as her cloak could cover. Brigid asked four of her novices to each take one corner of her cloak and walk to the north, south, east and west respectively. The cloak expanded magically as the women traveled a great distance, covering a very large parcel of land. The king was astounded and realized immediately that he was in the presence of a saint! He kept his word, and continued to shower her with support.
St. Brigid is known for wisdom, high intelligence, poetic eloquence and song. I think it fitting to end with this version of St. Brigid’s Prayer. It is flavoured by her generosity, humour, and reverence for the power of Love, above all else.
I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.
I’d love the Heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.
I’d love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I’d put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.
White cups of love I”d give them,
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer
To every man.
I’d make Heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make the men contented for their own sake
I’d like Jesus to love me too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around,
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.
A blessed Feast of Saint Brigid to you.
May you possess Brigid’s habit of the wildest bounty.
May you be a flame to illuminate the darkness.
Goddess Guidance Oracle Card © Doreen Virtue PhD
A five week session of beautiful QiGong designed especially for women. Life-changing and nourishing!
The photo is from a trip I took in 2011 to a healing horse ranch near Kamloops. Big Sky and Big Earth, the energies we play with in qigong.
I have been pouring some love into my website lately in order to bring it up to date and publicly share more about what I am up to these days.
Shakti has her own mysterious and delightful ways of moving through the world and through our lives. I just try to do my best to listen. So far she has taken me on some wonderful journeys that have always proven to be enriching, expansive and healing.
These days, I play QiGong daily, and like to experiment with how it blends with yoga. My conclusion is that they’re a great fit! The shaking, tapping and cupping of QiGong wakes up circulation and awareness of all body parts, which makes all yoga poses sing. The consistent emphasis on positive visualization coupled with rhythmic breathing promotes healthy self-reflection and clears away old habituated ways of thinking. New possibilities emerge. Health and wellness flourish. Joy grows.
When people ask me “what is QiGong?”, my simple and direct answer is to say it’s “Chinese Yoga”. They’re both about harmony in breath, mind and movement. They’re both about self-empowerment and wholeness.
Feeling stressed? Need a rest? Want to do something wonderful for your health and well-being?
Here’s the perfect class for you: we are pleased to announce our new Restorative Yoga Nidra classes in November!
These classes combine the best elements of Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra to help you unwind any stubborn knots in your body and your mind.
The restorative portion of class includes gentle yoga stretches, mindful breathing and the skillful use of gravity and comfortable props to support your body effortlessly in nourishing postures that soothe your nerves and melt away stress.
After this delicious preparation, you will experience a guided visualization designed to gently and thoroughly release even the deepest layers of tension within. This ultimate level of relaxation is known as nidra, or “sleep of the Yogis”. It is the perfect Yoga for our complex times.
You can expect to walk out refreshed and renewed, with a smile on your face. You will sleep like a baby, and give your immune system a well-timed boost.
Your hosts are Alan and Karusia, who will be co-leading this class. Each of us have over 40 years experience in Yoga postures, breathwork, meditation, healing arts and stress management.
Drop in on any, or every, Tuesday in November (6, 13, 20, 27) from 7-8:30 pm. You will be glad you did!
Classes are $15 each, and are held in the Amenity Room of the Kensington Market Lofts at 21 Nassau St. Please use the entrance just west of the main doors.
For inquiries please contact email@example.com
New Fall offerings from ShaktiFlow: Yoga, Dance and QiGong at 21 Nassau St.
I am delighted to announce the following classes starting September 11th and continuing through to the end of November.
All classes take place in the Community Room, entry from the garden walkway just west of the main doors at 21 Nassau St. near Spadina and College Streets, Toronto.
Tuesday, beginning Sept. 11
5:30-6:45pm Hatha Yoga (all levels, drop in)
Yoga postures and flows, breathing, relaxation and meditation in a classical style.
$12 per class
7:15-8:30pm Yoga for Emotional and Mental Well-Being (all levels, pre-reg)
This is a 6 week pre-registered program to shift habituated ways of thinking and acting.
- choose from session 1 (Sept. 11-Oct. 16) or session 2 (Oct. 23-Nov. 29)
- a practical and experiential program of gentle yoga in combination with specialized breathing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- ideal for those beginning or refreshing a meditation practice, as well as those living with anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia and/or digestive challenges
- you will receive notes and a CD of yoga nidra (deep yogic relaxation)
- short homework assignments will be assigned
$120 includes course, supplies and taxes
Thursday beginning Sept. 13
6:30-7:45pm ShaktiBelly Dance (women only, all levels, drop in)
A fusion of yoga, bellydance and sensual movement for feminine self-awareness and self-expression. Enjoy shimmy belts, veils and inspiring music and choreographies. Naturally, dark chocolate will be served!
$15 per class (new pricing!)
8:15-9:15pm Radiant Lotus Women’s QiGong (women only, all levels, pre-reg)
Think of qigong as “Chinese Yoga”: it is an ancient blend of breathing, movement and visualisation that promotes health and longevity. RLWQ is a special form of qigong developed by master Daisy Lee to address the unique physical, mental, emotional and hormonal needs of a woman throughout her life cycles. Bring your moms, sisters, girlfriends and daughters and share self-empowerment and self-care. RLWQ is for women of all ages and all abilities. The exercises can be done standing or seated.
This is a 6 week pre-registered program
- choose from session 1 (Sept. 13-Oct. 18) or session 2 (Oct. 25-Nov.29)
$70 includes course, notes and taxes
Please note that drop in classes are ongoing, but pre-reg. classes will only run with a minimum of 4 students.
Please contact karusia AT shaktiflow DOT com to book your spot or to ask any questions you may have.
In yoga we learn to unite the body, breath and awareness to create balance and harmony. To this end, our physical nature is a instrument of enlightenment.
This 20 hour session is part of the Nagara Yoga Teacher Training program, and it is also open to the public. It is an excellent refresher course for practitioners and teachers of yoga and movement.
The course is set up in three sections:
“meet your body” (an overview of bones, joints and directions of movement),
“move your body” (an understanding of muscles and nerves) and
“your body and asana” (how to apply this information directly to your practice of asana and share it with others).
We will also look at breathing, the nervous system and the endocrine system and how all of these systems interact in asana, meditation and relaxation. The course is full of experiential exercises, so come prepared to move and use all your senses!
Friday Sept 30th 6:30-10pm
Saturday Oct 1st 9am-6pm
Sunday Oct 2nd 10am-6pm
To register, please click the Nagara Yoga link above. If you have any questions, please contact me directly (use karusia at shaktiflow . com )
There are still spots available for this delicious playshop taking place on Sunday March 13 from 2:30-5pm. Our exploration of the elements in our bodies and beings continues with “Wind”.
The element of wind represents the air we breathe as well as the breeze in our hair….
In this session we will shine a light on the upper body, focussing on the movements of our chest, shoulders, arms and hands. While the lower body shows us stability, the upper body tutors us in lightness and expressiveness. Read more.