Getting Started with Your Practice: Resources and Support

This has been on my mind so much lately…

It’s not the to-do list with checked boxes, the app with the timers and bells and whistles, or the endless meal planning that will change your life.Think about it… what does it mean to “be on top of it all?”  ALL the time spent worried about what “others will think” WHO are those specific others?  Can you see them? Are they people that you care about, that mean a lot to you?  If not, why are “they” taking up so much of your mind space? your energy? your life?

My dear friends, freedom occurs when you cultivate a real, authentic, meaningful, dynamic relationship to YOUR  life. The relationship in which you trust and love and treat with compassion, the realities of your responsibilities. Freedom occurs when you CHOOSE joy over endless to-do’s and you wake up to the value of a spacious, expansive, creative day. Freedom occurs when we trust ourselves and listen to our hearts, not JUST the mind.

“PLEASANCE!!!”  you say, “how on Earth can I do that? I have a job, and kids, and bills, and endless tasks on my lists.

And then I will come close, hold your hand and whisper… practice. It all starts with practice.

So in honor of this response, here are tips to get you started. 

Here are 3 of my Favorite Yoga & Wisdom Books.  You can click on the book cover to learn more and to purchase.

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Check out all of my recommended reads.  Find titles related to Family/Parenting support, business/self-development, meditation, kids books, plus DVDs, products, and more of what I love.

 

Just added! Give yourself 8 minutes in the morning, on your lunch break, or before bed to try this at home yoga practice.

Here’s a 5-minute meditation video I created to support content from Chapter 8: Awake of my book, Delight: 8 Principles for Living with Joy and Ease.  Want to receive all the supporting video content? Sign up.

Tara Brach offers a wonderful “How to Meditate Guide” which addresses setting up your practice, troubleshooting common issues, and sustaining a practice.  You can also check out her New to Meditation page.

“You are traveling a path that has led to clarity, peace and deep realization for many people over thousands of years. May their awakening support and inspire you. And may the sincerity of your practice heal and free your spirit.”
— Tara Brach

When you establish your sitting practice, you’ll want to be comfortable.  Find a comfy mat, bolster, or blanket.  Or set the mood or intention with some essential oils and aromatherapy!  Maybe you need a grounding oil like Vetiver or Sandalwood.  If you need extra relaxation try Lavender, Roman Chamomile, or Clary Sage.  Need some cleansing?  Grab your sage.  Need some loving? Neroli or Rose will do the trick.  There is SO much to learn about essential oils related to practice.  Let’s chat about it.  Book a free 30 minute intro call with me.

If you need any additional support regarding your practice and want to work together, here’s an application to get started.

Additionally, join me at Insight Meditation Community of Washington in Tenleytown for my half-day Pause Retreat on Friday, November 18th.  This is a simple, sweet yoga and meditation retreat for all levels where you will explore practices to take home.

a lil omm everyday + #yogaineverydamnway

#yogaeverydamnday is a very popular movement challenge, when you look at the hashtag collection it is more than half pictures of people in very difficult postures that most of us don’t practice regularly. For some people, these photos are very inspiring. For others, they are very discouraging and turning people away from yoga because they believe they won’t ever be able to achieve or accomplish these “advanced” arm balances and inversions.
This morning I woke up thinking… What if it was #yogaineverydamnway, and instead of people doing headstands, handstands, and arm balances they were meditating, sitting in stillness.  Not striving, not perfecting, not competing as we get to be more “advanced” practitioners.  Pssst… I’m going to let you in on a little secret Gentle Is The New Advanced
and J is coming to The Underground Yogi, in VA in October!!
Yoga’s Ethical Guide to Living:the Yamas and Niyamas are here to keep us on track … to stay focused on how I only really want to do this whole “life thing” as a student of yoga, not because it gives me “yoga booty” but because it helps me realize my strength, my flexibility, and my potential (not to mention the shift of perspective, mindset, and clearing of the internal cobwebs so that I am able to live these days awake, alive, and in tune with my life).  That to me is the gift of a lifetime. Thank you, Yoga.
I’m going to share with you our outline for the Mom’s Up themed workshops (plus poses) featured in our upcoming retreat… these are not just for our mamas, but for ALL humans to explore. How do these themes show up in your life and in your relationships every day?  What happens when you invite yourself into a pose with a theme and reflect up on the theme?  How does it feel when you breathe into the pose, come out, and Pause.
This type of practice is extremely efficient… you don’t need 90 minutes, fancy yoga pants, or even to leave your home. It’s just a lil omm every day, plus #yogaineverydamnway.
Try it and let me know what you think.
Mom’s Up Workshop Themes & Supporting Poses
Energetic strength (plank)
Energy and time feel like scarce resources for moms. Be reminded of your inner strength and tap into your vital energies.Find the power to manage your energy sustainably, and to be yourSELF with authentic conviction. 
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Balance (tree pose)
A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures that are in ALIGNMENT with one’s values. Balance is  dynamic and that you “achieve” when all of the most precious aspects of your life and self are in harmony.  Only you can determine what balance means to you, what alignment looks and feels like to YOU, in this season. How do you embrace equilibrium in your heart and mind?
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Self love (mudra)
What does your love affair with you look like? Realize the value of caring for yourself.  Learn to recognize and celebrate what is wonderful about you. With hands on your heart, breathe into the center of your own being. The real, beautiful, loving kind soul that I believe exists in all of us. Tap into her as often as possible. Befriend her. Embrace and Empower her to help you make decisions for your life. 
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Trust (half moon)
Self doubt, guilt, not-enoughitis are all too common symptoms of motherhood, ( adulthood?). Reconcile with the voices and habits that support the re-occurence of these symptoms and learn to connect with your intuition so you can feel confident in your choices as a mother, as a woman. Begin living a life based on trusting yourSELF and the Universe that supports you. 
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Creativity (side twists)
Busy-ness, overwhelm, stress and lack of self-confidence can all be barriers to a mothers’ powerful creative flow.  Learn how to overcome these barriers and connect with and nourish you creative spirit. It is time to settle into your authentic self and let your imagination roam free.
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Want to learn more about Mom’s Up?  We were just featured on Mindful Healthy Life! 
If you’re a mama who lovingly does EVERYTHING for your family and somewhere along the way have lost track of your own needs, priorities, and self-care then you’re invited to a complimentary group coaching call with me and my retreat co-host, Alex Hughes this Thursday, October 6th @ 11am.
Want in?  Sign up here.  Recordings will be available to everyone registered.
Registration for our weekend retreat in Middleburg, Virginia ends on October 10th!  Only a handful of spots are available.

Mid Summer Update

Hi lil ommies,

Well, it’s been quite a summer.

We left DC the day the kiddos got out of school and made our way up to CT to spend a bit of time with my family before we headed over to Nantucket to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary with some of our wedding party. When we come back in August we will have been gone 7.5 weeks!

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We felt so lucky to have folks come back to the Island and celebrate with us. Nantucket is a very special to me because my grandparents had a house there when I was little and I spent many childhood days alone walking the trails, going to the beach, and riding bikes mostly by myself.  I love sharing the beauty of the island with people I love, and this year was extra awesome because Saylor organized and led our renewal ceremony on the beach.  It was definitely a night we won’t forget!

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In early July we relocated to Hartford, CT where my grandmother lives.  This is the same house that has been in our family for 96 years!  Talk about memories!  The kids have been in various camps, having so many interesting New England adventures. We went to Maine last weekend and now we are preparing for a quick weekend visit to Vermont to see our dear friend (and former LO teacher, Kate)!   It’s truly been a wonderful, interesting summer.

One thing I LOVE about social media is seeing all my friends and family on their travels, with the growing kids and the big smiles and the ice creamy faces. BUT I also know that some of that can cause us to feel a bit “less than” or F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) or negative sad feelings around social media. Listen, get real with yourself and if you DON’T feel good when you are scrolling – GET OFF THE PHONE or COMPUTER- and do something that DOES  make you feel good!  Put the technology down and take 5 deep breaths. Go for a walk, pet your dog or cat, HUG a real HUMAN! Reach out on the phone to someone you love.  I have been calling people this summer to catch up on the phone, just like old times!  It’s been a wonderful way to connect to the people in my life.

I also have had some really nice work time when my kids are at camp. While I am not working TOO much right now (mostly taking long  walks and reading),  I have enjoyed studying and learning more about doTerra essential oils and using them this summer as much as possible, selling them to students, and introducing the benefits of aromatherapy to people. I’ve even had time to map our my fall schedule and offerings!

I REALLY miss seeing everyone in person, but I’m excited about the Fall!  I’ll be teaching a monthly Family Yoga class at Washington Yoga Center (registration will be available through washingtonyogacenter.com), two Yoga for Women sessions at IMCW, various Retreats, workshops, my 8- week THRIVE online course, private coaching, and NEW holistic healing offerings such as reiki and AromaTouch massage! Our website is regularly updated, so you can learn more there and sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already!

I have also been reading books that people have suggested to me, mostly subjects around healthy finances, parenting, and writing as well as FINALLY getting into some fiction, which to me is EXACTLY what summer is all about. What are YOU reading this summer? Anything awesome?

Listen, as much as I have found love and joy in these gorgeous summer days, the weight of the world is also creating unrest, there is a deep unsettled, low level anxiety that lies right under the surface. As a yogi, as a compassionate human being, as a woman, as a mama, as me, I deeply care about our future as a country and as a people. And where it gets a bit sticky and challenging is that in spiritual practice when things get complicated we try to simplify. We don’t put out the anger and darkness and fear with anger or violence. We have to keep loving, we have to keep peaceful, we have to listen and hold one another. We have to communicate, donate our time or money to the causes that are near and dear to our heart. I know I have been reaching out to others as a way to help support connection, offering my time and resources to an idea one of our students has that will greatly support families, as well as thinking about the way I personally can impact change in our area!  More on that coming soon!

Below are a few things (links to articles, videos, etc) I have read and listened to over the past few weeks to help me– I hope they help you. I know it’s not changing the world or ending racism or bigotry or going to put an end to gun violence.  Ya know what? It’s not going to guarantee anything because in this world NOTHING is promised to us. NOTHING is permanent. Waking up to the truth of the pain of the world, while serving our families and our communities and  living in love as a choice, every day is powerful. Pay attention to your own suffering and anger  and do what you can to heal yourself. It starts with us!  Then we model for our children, our neighbors, and we stand together in our awareness, even when it’s painful.

 

 

Why I’m a Racist article

Thoughts from dear Katrina. 

“My hope, for all of us, is that we will not shy away from the hard conversations. May we continue to have them with our loved ones and our friends, on our Facebook pages and in public spaces and, especially, with people who see the world through different eyes. May we choose in each of these encounters and communications to heal rather than humiliate, to honor rather than to hurt. May we listen well and respect each other. May we resist the urge to dehumanize others. May we practice the art of empathy, which is to say, may we put ourselves in the shoes of another and willingly walk their mile. May we be living examples of kindness. May we act in accordance with our deepest human values: love, compassion, integrity, fairness, and hope for a better future. May we read more deeply and think more expansively. May we continue to educate and stretch ourselves. May we not retreat from complexity, but embrace it. May we be practical rather than partisan, thoughtful rather than reactive, generous of heart toward all rather than protective of a few. May we seek and find common ground here, in our America.”– Katrina Kennison

I often listen to music and just sit. I journal. I breathe when life feels too big, too heavy, too dark.

I went back to this recently and watched this. 

I don’t have any answers. I don’t know the way or the path of healing the world. As my personal mission- I just share with others perspectives, stories, insights that may be helpful to some. Meanwhile, doing everything I can in my tiny tiny world to be strong and brave and show up every day for myself and my family and our community. I take my life very seriously. I take each day with love and gratitude because I know this time is precious. I know living in love is the right choice for me and that means gathering people, creating, sharing and being a student.

I love you and thank you for being part of my life.

Here is sweet Milo, who turned 5 this summer, sleeping on me. Every night I put him back in his bed, and every night he creeps back in with me.  And a picture of the flowers at our local park which I just love. I document all of this daily here.

PS

I LOVE connecting with people, so email me pleasance@lilomm.com or join our lil omm life facebook group to keep the conversation going and to share with me things that help you during tough times, to connect over ways our community might be able to help, or just introduce yourself.

 

PPS

Join me here!

PAUSE. -Winter is dead.”

A lil omm poem by Leah Musico.

Ode to Lil’ Omm on its 5 Year Anniversary

The time has come to celebrate

A studio called Lil’ Omm.

Where every person across all ages

Is welcomed to call home.

Male or female, gay or straight,

Big or very small.

All kinds of folks from all generations,

At Lil’ Omm, we want you all!

Sad to say, but it is true,

It’s special and very rare

To find a place where all can be

And truly feel the care.

Five years ago, a seed was planted

(Since, DC hasn’t been the same)

A beautiful community began with one woman

And Pleasance is her name.

With vision, intention, and lots of love,

She opened in Palisades

A place where children, moms and dads

Could connect, inspire, and engage.

Word got out and people came.

They realized what was growing.

Much different than other studios,

A community Pleasance was sowing.

Classes for asana, yes it’s true,

But so much more than that.

Mindfulness, connection, family bonding –

Lil’ Omm is where it’s at!

People came and people stayed

When they found Pleasance’s community.

Parents want a place, you see

Where their kids can learn about unity.

Just a short while later,

A new space we were to have

When the perfect spot in Tenleytown

Became our home on Wisconsin Ave.

Now yoga classes and tons of workshops

Help our community thrive.

Prenatal training, infant massage,

Dance parties – we are alive!

Curvy, yin, playtime, and labs.

Prenatal, itsy bitsy, baby and me.

Mommy meet-ups, stroller fit, gentle, and flow.

And so much more, you see!

So come one, come all, to join in the fun

In this beautiful space Pleasance made.

Bring your family and all your friends

(And remember, we offer financial aid!)

Happy birthday, Lil’ Omm.

We feel your love to our very core.

Thank you, Pleasance, for five wonderful years.

And here’s to many more!

Leah Musico

my day job

in the quiet afternoons, we play yoga.

thanks to my friend Sadie for stopping by to photograph her niece, the sweet & sassy Sasha.

Love how these capture the silliness, the playfulness & the innocence of these girls. IMG_7979 IMG_7980 IMG_7982 IMG_7984 IMG_7986 IMG_7986 (1) IMG_7992 IMG_7995 IMG_8003 IMG_8005

the yoga love

the yoga world is changing, shifting, expanding. I go to classes away from my studio that are totally packed with 20somethings moving pose to pose. Most of these classes are fitness classes in yoga studios. But as I have been contemplating for the past few years, I’m so lost in the yoga world right now. I have been through every emotion on the topic. I spent some time being a Bikram Yoga hater, some time not understanding the incredibly powerful benefits of meditation, restorative and yin, and then most recently I have been putting down over stressed, over crowded, super “dangerous” classes.

AS I approach my 10 year anniversary as a teacher.. I was recently contemplating on all these changes, on all the articles on Elephant Journal, J. Brown Yoga, Mind Body Green, Mathew Remski, Huff Post

it’s all getting so crazy! I feel like the “yoga” world is everywhere- it’s in my sleep, it’s on my mind 24-7. I run a studio, I teach, I mentor, but mostly I am a student. My teaching has become less involved and more creative, less technical and more experiential. I’m often wondering “is this helpful?”
Yoga is such an incredibly personal experience and I’m learning every day that I NEED meaning to THRIVE in my life. I need meaningful conversations, work, classes, teachers. I need QUESTIONS! I need clarity.
So, in the chaotic day to day ….life in a city with 2 small kiddos and a crazy Staffy, keep the studio thriving, keeping informed and updated on the latest “yoga” news and issues, supporting our 20 or so teachers & staff, and trying to have a healthy marriage- it’s no wonder my yoga has slowed way down. In order to keep up with the variety of roles that I have, my yoga had to shift and I’m realizing that I can be open to it all.

Listen, I am not a yoga master or a guru. I’m a mom and a friend and a human being who craves connection. I want to run my studio to support others on the journey. I want to live a meaningful life and share the tiny bits of joy, words, videos, books, reading and people who help me every day on this path. When we lay down at night, my daughter and I say ” may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease.” that’s it folks, that’s really all I want in this world. I want to be totally alive in my life. I want to be awake to what is right in front of me.

I have decided to pay attention to and notice when I wonder off into yoga hating land or when I’m becoming a cranky old yoga teacher. I want people to experience the JOY and the HEALING that it can bring- NO MATTER WHERE THEY GET IT. I want people to ASK their teachers questions about the practice. I know this ancient system for living is ALIVE right here- and I want to bring to light the ways it continues to serve and support us. ALL of us. There are so many paths, so many ways to yoga, so many methods, variations and styles, and it’s okay.

It’s a privilege to know these postures and these teachings. To spend time reflecting on our inner world, to put service and love above all else. To pay attention to our lives. This is just the beginning of my starting to open up about the current state of yoga…. I want to hear where you are.. and how this is all unfolding for you. more to come, for sure.

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more of this…

Winter leads to Connection. Quiet. Stillness.
My winter teaching schedule can help YOU.
Private yoga and well-being sessions are a unique way to have your practice supported in your own home or office.
For this hour, Pleasance will work with you individually on your health, well-being, and spiritual practices.  This might include yoga, meditation, self care, nutrition, aromatherapy, setting up a sacred space, or deep relaxation.  She will create a unique experience based on your needs as they are today and help you to release stress and tension while addressing any health concerns that you might have.
These private sessions are intended for students of all levels and ideal for postpartum families and students who need a gentle practice or have injuries and are not able to attend regular studio classes.
These sessions are based on her work as a yoga teacher and holistic health coach.
* If you are not comfortable with doing these sessions in your home, we can arrange for a studio time.
 Pricing:
$125 for 1 session
$300 for 3 sessions
$465 for 5 sessionsLIMITED slots available in 2015.
Questions? please email info@lilomm.com

Hatha Yoga 

Tuesday mornings
9:45-10:45am
Join me.
In this 8-week series, we will cultivate practices based in traditional Hatha Yoga teachings that include breathing, mindful yoga and meditation. We will spend each week practicing & learning more about how this ancient system of well-being can be integrated into our daily lives and be useful for us, NOW.
Hatha Yoga is the total integration of yin/yang, sun/moon, male/ female, and through awareness we can
establish our yoga practice to heal us, support us and bring us peace from the inside out.  Developing a yoga practice helps us become stronger and more flexible on and off the yoga mat and can spread to all the relationships in our lives.
This class is for new-to-yoga students, students wishing to return to yoga after an injury or pregnancy, regular practitioners or teachers who want to explore a more quiet and reflective practice or ANYONE interested in cultivating awareness in a supportive setting.This series will be in a small group setting, and space is limited to no more than 6 (no drop-ins).

* need childcare? email info@lilomm.com

Cost: $150

Big Mind Live @ Yogaville!

“trust yourself to do what is right and navigate the way
trust yourself- this is advanced practice. ” Erich Schiffman

I have read, watched, listened to and practiced in my home with Erich Schiffman for a few years. I have seen him at various conferences and even attended a wee bit of his workshops in DC in 2012. This past weekend, I traveled to one of my favorite quiet and nourishing places, YOGAVILLE, to study for a weekend with him entitled, Freedom Yoga… “His unique Freedom Yoga offers an intuitive approach to Yoga as the art of living. Using this approach, you meditate (listen inwardly for guidance) when you sit quietly, when you practice poses and throughout the rest of your day. From this inner connection, you act as you are prompted to—from within. While not an inherently strenuous practice, it is an advanced one, requiring courage to follow your deepest impulses about what feels right and what doesn’t—which isn’t always easy.” From Yogaville website.

“Be the place where love flows through b/c it’s good for others and it’s good for you” – Erich Schiffman.

I adore what he has to say. He has been practicing yoga for 47 years and he is open minded, soft, clear, strong and humble. A true warrior. He talks about his growth & learning process, his understanding of yoga and meditation as it applies directly to his life today. I love his teachings b/c they empower ME to live fully in my own life, not according to some GURU. His postures are helpful for our bodies, they heal and connect us. He encourages us to practice “Freedom Style Yoga” which means that within the alignment and the boundaries of knowing posture.. we can play, we can explore variations, we can make it our own. It is Freedom. He teaches and supports us to sit in meditation, which is repeats IS the yoga. IS the most important part of yoga. His sequencing is as follows…

Chapter 1- Dharma Talk/ Discussion
Chapter 2- Meditation
Chapter 3- Asana, guided
Chapter 4- Asana- FREE
Chapter 5- Meditation

* all of this can be done in a variety of time frames AND by the end of the weekend, we voted for LONG Freedom Yoga and no guided asana.. it was SO POWERFUL to practice with a room of breathing, moving, being, loving Yogis- all doing what served and healed and stretched them. Us, somehow together and yet completely left on our own to be fully expressed as unique and beautiful individual selves! it was AWE -some.

“put THE KNOWN on pause. learn to shut up.
put a coma, in your commentary.” Erich Schiffman

Here are my favorite quotes from the weekend. You can check out more at ErichSchiffman.com. I subscribe to his website which is where I have learned from him over the past 2 years. He puts on classes, content, teachings, that you can explore, at your own pace and schedule.

“quiet the mind. zip it. mentally, in that moment of chaos. Then, you start feeling more authentic.
life will become more fun.”

“RELAX and be brave enough to do what your inner guide is telling you to do. ”

“meditation IS listening. thinking less and listening more.”

“intuitive practice IS advanced.”

“ways to meditate
1. buddha style
2. asana style
3. lifestyle “everything else”- the rest of the time.”

” SURRENDER- our deepest impulses are love. ”

“HOMEWORK TO START NOW!
relax ( whenever it occurs to you)
Practice LOVE More
Trust your deepest impulses of how to think and be. ”

“Be a loving presence. love is the willingness to recognize that which is truth”

“steps of meditation
align- get comfy
relax- settle in- wobble- to stillness
breathe- breath watch
love ride the breathe into the feeling
pay attention- listening ”

“when it occurs to you practice exhale, pause ( like now, and now, and now) ”

“HEALING means REVEALING”

“yoga is the inquiry into truth.”
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