Freedom Yoga as a Lifestyle. Tips from Erich Schiffman!

If you have taken a class with me in the past few years, you know that I have been deeply inspired by the teachings of Erich Schiffman and Freedom Style Yoga.  His influence has really allowed me to expand my awareness of what a yoga practice should be, look, and feel.  I was SO fortunate to be with him last weekend at the Freedom Yoga Retreat in Yogaville, and to share the experience with Saylor and lil ommies Ada & Paige.
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The best part of practicing freedom yoga is when Erich turns on some of his favorite music and just lets the whole room do a free form session.  No prescribed flow, no adjustments, just movement. The energy, the art, the creativity that you feel is really amazing and palpable.  Encouraging Saylor to see and feel this practice was very special to me as we were able to intuitively connect over partner poses and the music, which is something we needed after a tough week.
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Being with Erich reminded me of some foundational principles to really integrating yoga into your life.  In October 2013 I shared some of my experience from Big Mind Live with Erich at Yogaville in 2013.  Now, I’m excited to share with you some of the BIG takeaways from our recent time together.  I hope you can think about these, let it marinate, and share with me what you think about freedom, yoga, and life.

Of course, once I was paying attention and thinking about freedom I started seeing it everywhere!
Like this powerful blog post from Liz Gilbert.
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Erich’s teachings for yoga and life:
  • Yoga is the inquiry into truth.
  • Yoga is conscious union with the infinite that is being expressed by you.
  • Remember to do a “Pause Practice” regularly, as often as you can remember. This is where you pause, exhale and relax.  Do this whenever you remember to do it, and as often as you can.  I’ll be offering a Pause Practice @ IMCW November 18th!
  • Go into listen mode more often. Be attentive and aware and universal.  Wisdom will have a place to come in.
  • Love is the willingness to recognize that which is real.
  • Regularly as yourself, “What is the Truth here really?”
  • Allow yourself to “silent mind it” and be willing to not know all the answers all the time.
  • Relax More. Love more. Trust more (and be brave in the trusting). This is not easy.  It’s simple, but not easy.
  • In your yoga practice- look for moments to linger, flow on, pause, slow down, and change it up. Channel your poses through the energy in your body.  Think about what you are energizing, what thoughts you energize, and what you give your attention to.
  • Find some patterns in the body that you like to practice.
  • When you start a free form yoga practice, start with the postures you know and look for options and choices in the poses, and get into it a little more with the breath to help guide you. It’s important to learn from a school of yoga, get the basic form and alignment, to have some discipline around the learning of the system BUT eventually the discipline dissolves and intuitive practice guides.  Do enough movements so that it feels GOOD!  It’s nice to do both formal practice and free form practice.
For more teachings from Erich, sign up to listen to his recordings and teachings here.  
Below are 2 videos- one about yoga, and one about meditation.

Final Thoughts
I encourage my students to try “Bed Med”.  Slide out of bed in the morning or into bed at night and just PAUSE a few breaths, sit and meditate here for as long as feels good- before you doze off or before you start your day.   Think of yoga and meditation as lifestyle. Remembering to relax and listen for Universal Wisdom is part of this lifestyle.  The yoga postures are awareness training, just a physical way for us to be aware of the subtle and to practice listening to our bodies.

Many of you know that behind the scenes I am a crazy voracious reader. I always have at least 3-4 books on my shelf, in my purse, my car, my life! I read something every day and I mostly love non fiction books around wellness, wisdom and wealth.  These are the categories I define as well being, self help, growth, transformation; all great stories of change and love and truth (i.e. freedom).

For the past 6 months or so I have been dreaming of a way to share my love for the teachings and thoughts in these books to a greater audience, and ta-da! The Omm @ Home Virtual Book Club for Inspired Women was born.  Each book has been carefully selected to help cultivate our awareness and understanding of the universal truths and wisdom practices.  Sign up here to learn more and to get the reading list, starting with October’s book  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Our first online meeting will be on Wednesday, October 26th @ 7:30pm.  We meet on the last Wednesday of each month!  If you can’t make it live, a recording will be sent to you!

Take a moment to pause, relax, and listen before the holiday rush.  Join me at IMCW on Friday, November 18th from 9:30am-2:30pm for the Pause half-day yoga & meditation retreat.

Why Retreat

retreatWhy Retreat?

Okay, let’s be real for a minute.
Our lives never seem to slow down. The minute we think we will “have some time” to ourselves, a kid gets sick, the sitter does not show up, our boss calls us back into work, the dishwasher breaks. It never ends! It’s just too much. Our daily, busy modern lives do not really ease up and it’s truly up to us to put a big stop sign up and say, “ENOUGH!  I need a break.”
A few years ago when Milo was a year and a half, I had hit that wall. I was running on fumes and was just not able to find any peace or space in my daily life.  I was craving quiet, rest, solitude, and nourishment… and it’s funny because I did not realize that going in.  My nervous system was on OVERDRIVE all the time, and I don’t think I even had a minute to realize what I wanted.  It was a freezing cold night, both kids were crying, and I was sitting on the floor of my house when I saw the description for the retreat come into my inbox and I thought, “THAT’S IT. It’s time.”
You see, before that I had never spent time or money on my self like this.  Sure I had taken “trainings” (and anything having to do with learning always counts as a good investment), but I really struggled with allowing myself– giving permission to myself to actually schedule some serious down time. A weekend that focused solely on meditation and silence, on being and not doing.
And after a few days away from my family, on my own to write in my journal, read my book, be in silence, walk in nature, eat meals on my own slowly and with care, I started to breath deeper, fuller and I could feel my shoulders soften. I started to see my life in a new way, I started to relax a bit into my true nature.  And my life never really looked the same again.
I was able to recognize and prioritize when I needed some alone time. I was able to make it through some very hard times by just knowing that my next retreat was planned and that I was truly giving myself permission to take time away from daily life. I noticed that when I returned my voice was stronger, my heart fuller, my head clearer. I was prepared to make decisions for our family and for my biz, and I was  able to engage with my daily life from a more loving and grounded place.
Yep, just that weekend away had given my body and my mind the much deserved REST it truly needed, and from then on Retreat has been one of the ways I have been able to do hard things, process emotions, and find my way home to ME. What a gift to give my kids and to my husband, when I come home and love them up so much!  My gratitude is overflowing for the gifts that our life is and that can be SO HARD TO SEE when I’m rushing around, DOING, DOING, DOING and living in fight or flight mode.
So.. that was where my love affair with retreats started. I signed up for one, and then another. I planned and mapped out that I really needed and wanted to go once a year, then once a season. Eventually, I  started leading them at the studio and then in new places. One of the things I love to do most in the world is hold space for women to just be: to create, to rest, to walk or stretch with no expectations for outcomes.  Just everyone having their own experience.
So this Fall and Winter I invite you to join me. Each retreat a bit different: a different purpose, a different time of year.
  • MOMS UP!  October 28-30.  GREAT for mamas who want to spend an intimate weekend with other mamas! DELISH food, conversations, mama workshops and movement practices all weekend. We share a big country house and enjoy the beauty of Fall and each other.
  • Pause.  November 13.  Our most popular half-day retreat is back!  Spend your Friday committing yourself to purposeful rest, movement, and connection right in Tenleytown.  No weekend long commitment or stress around arranging childcare-  just a short, sweet opportunity to recharge before the Holidays.
  • Delight.  December 9-11. Designed for women wanting to spend some time in quiet, in contemplation, surrounded by the beautiful VA countryside with plenty of trails to walk, plus time for yoga and meditation. The PERFECT way to approach the Holidays, to set intentions for the new year, and to explore your inner world.  In this retreat, we will dive into some of the principles covered in my book, Delight: 8 Principles for Living with Joy & Ease all while settling into the rhythms of winter. Our accommodations allow for you to share a room & visit with a friend OR to have a private room where you can choose to spend most of your time just resting and relaxing.  I have a few optional workshops also planned for this weekend, including JourneyDance and Mala Bracelet making, and book your own massage.

 

Retreat FAQs

What if I don’t know anyone? You’re already one of us—you seek connection, rest, and nourishment and so do we! It won’t take long to break the ice and feel open and comfortable with the group.

What if I have a food/allergy concern? E-mail us and we’ll find a solution.

What if I’ve never done yoga or meditation? You’re in for a treat! We’ll enjoy all levels practices for all ages, stages, and sizes.

Is it possible to arrive early or stay late? Maybe! Please contact the venue directly.

What if I have to cancel? Your registration is non-refundable, however you are able to transfer registration to someone else (ie. sell you spot).  Keep in mind, this is a gift and investment in yourself.

so beautiful

last week, I was gifted an incredible piece of art that will forever be in my memory as one of the most beautiful, touching and meaningful moments in my life. 
we gathered as a lilomm teaching community & Michelle Cohen ( a teacher and friend) gifted me with the most incredible book of notes, pictures & quotes from the past 5 years at lil omm yoga. 

I cannot begin to express to everyone who wrote to me how special this is. I am blow away….overwhelmed with love… and truly delighted to have so many special memories and people I care about all in one place.  thank you to all who wrote and to all who have come through our doors. 

I love the work I do- and you can see why.  I promised teachers and students that I would post pictures of some of the pages…. thank you for this gift, it has given me so much joy- so much to remember….here is to many more… 

                                                     

28 day Mama Love (day 5)

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it’s a wonderful gift to be pregnant with your oldest friend.

I met Erica Moffitt Dilks the day she came home from the hospital. Her older brother and I were buddies.

I have literally known her, her whole life.

I have so many wonderful and hilarious memories of us…from childhood games and running back and forth between our houses to making after school snacks ( like chocolate, bananas, syrup, cookies, in the blender…) and riding bikes all over the hood. As we grew, we had more in common and became closer.  We had a blast, always singing songs in the car, meeting boys, going to the mall, driving around town….

Erica became a reporter after college and I was SO proud of her. She is amazing on screen, so smart, so interested and so real. She makes news reporting look easy, ( WHICH it is NOT!! I have learned so much behind the scenes info and it’s super tough!)

I remember being little girls and dancing around the house singing and dancing and pretending we were famous and on TV. And to grow up and see her best friend ON TV – living her dream, it’s truly magical!

Erica was on my first date with MEL… She was visiting us at GW for the weekend when I took her out on our friend date to meet this “older guy” I was interested in….and then of course she was in our wedding.. and I was in hers 5 months later. It was a fantastic year for both of us.

Erica and I have literally been through every up and down that 30 + years of friendship can bring.

What amazes me is her spirit to persevere & her incredible creativity in the kitchen for her kids. AND she is hilarious. She has made me laugh and been an incredible person in my life , for a very long time.

I love that she takes so much time to make life fun and meaningful for her kiddos. Thank you MAMA for being in my life, for so long and for just being YOU- no one else. Your light & energy & humor- I know I will treasure for the rest of my life.

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28 day Mama Love (day 4)

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Little Graces MAMAS

Today’s dedication is to a very special group of women.

When Saylor was 18 months, I joined a playgroup and met a fabulous group of   moms.

Steph, Kaci, Renee, Liz, Jamie, Victoria, Christie, & Shari

I adored hanging out with these ladies. The kids had a blast together and we started happy hour playdates on Friday that were fun for us too!

We still meet for non book club dinners to share stories, recipes, laughs, and good times. It’s so nice to have a group of mom friends that you can always just  be yourself around. When I was opening lil omm in Palisades, they sent flowers & took classes. I remember that year, sharing my dreams for LO with them. And I’m so glad we kept in touch.

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girls night out dancing!