Sunlight, Moonlight and Rituals
Nature has such a way of instructing me. She does not teach from a pulpit, nor from a manual. She is within and around us every day; her lessons are everywhere. Her breath is in the wind, her voice is in the waves, her warmth in the sun, her inspiration in the stars, her wisdom in the trees, and her guidance in the light of the moon.
In Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, humans experience both a 24 hour circadian-cycle as well as a lunar, seasonal and yearly circadian cycle. These cycles are the pillars of living an Ayurvedic life bringing balance between our body and the natural environment. As we live in alignment with the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, we feel a sense of connection with nature and all her elements.
Our relationship with nature is reciprocal. If we spend more time in nature, we come to recognize the medicine and importance of natural spaces. We are more inclined to maintain and protect the natural space around us because we have a relationship with it.
I love sunlight. It nourishes me.
A favorite daily ritual of mine is to take my sweet pup on a short morning or afternoon walk in the sunlight. After we finish our walk, we make our way onto a grassy area near my home. I let Gus run wild and free, and I smile as I watch him chase butterflies and squirrels. Animals have a way of reminding us why we are here. As he plays, I take a few moments to bask in the sunlight and feel its warmth.
I stand or kneel with my heart open wide, my eyes softly closed, and my face towards the sky. I listen to the songs of the birds, as the warm summer air kisses my face. I feel grounded in the earth and open to the sky. I allow light and love to fill me as I breathe deeply. Then I begin to move my body in a few sun salutations, synchronizing breath with movement. This short practice of self-love nourishes and energizes me. I feel very connected to nature.
In Sanskrit, Sundara means “unspeakable beauty.” It’s not the beauty you speak or post that makes you a great teacher, but rather the beauty that shines through you.”-Monique Lonner (Director of Yoga Therapy, The Soul of Yoga)
The sun is so majestic, so powerful, and so full of light.
The sun has the ability to make our skin glow and our soul shine. The sun helps us feel cheerful, happy, healthy, and radiant. Oh, how I love the sunshine.
And yet, there is something magical, mysterious and mercurial about the moon. Often, the moon is not recognized or appreciated like the sun, because her most bright light shines when we are asleep.
As I have become more aware of my various phases, and those of my daughters, I have become more curious about the phases of the moon.
Lately, I find myself walking outside at night to witness the shape and the quiet beauty of the moon. This night-time ritual that helps me remember that even during our dark hours, there is light that exists within the world and within us all.
One late summer night, during a particularly dark phase, I went outside and stared up at the bright full moon. I was feeling grief, worry, and fear during this period.
I was grieving the changing seasons of motherhood and the loss of my children’s pure innocence. I was worried about how I would be able to guide them in such a chaotic and confusing world. I was feeling into some fears about my future, not knowing what was to come. During this dark time, I was searching for light.
On that particular night, I spent some time standing there, observing this magnificent sight, taking in her light.
Barefoot, on the side of the road, with tear filled eyes, I placed my hands on my heart and silently observed her exquisite beauty. In that moment, as I stared up at her with curious eyes, it seemed that she saw me too.
I saw her in me and me in her.
Healing is an act of love, an act of the soul.
Like most humans, I struggle with anxiety, worry, fear, and stress. I feel a lot of pressure in my life. And, I grieve loss and change.
During these times, I ask for space. I go inward. I search for light. And always, I find light within the darkness. I come away from each experience, just a little more healed and with a little more self-awareness than I had before. My heart opens.
Life has a way of wounding us and breaking our hearts. None of us is exempt from life’s ups and downs. When we take time to draw inward, we discover the story of the heart. When we tend to the garden within, we grow.
Healing is an inner journey and a path to becoming the highest version of ourselves.
Learning to truly love myself has been key to my healing. My relationship with myself is priority. Without that, there is no authentic relationship with others.
Will you be explorer who dares to sail into unknown waters and brave the wilderness?
The Healing Power of Yin
Daily acts of self-love help me to feel independent and secure in who I am.
One of my favorite healing modalities is a specific type of Restorative Yoga called Yin Yoga. In this type of yoga, we explore our yoga practice as relational rather than postural. After all, yoga is relationship. Relationship with oneself, relationship with others, and relationship with the Divine.
Yin Yoga has many benefits, harmonizing the body-mind-spirit relationship. On a physical level, it increases circulation, releases fascia, and improves flexibility and joint mobility. On an emotional and mental level, it calms the mind, balances the nervous system, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves focus. On a spiritual level, it helps us tap into our inner vision, and it can even change our perspectives and spark our intuition.
How Yin Heals my Soul
As often as I can, I treat myself to a Yin Yoga class or workshop. Recently, I had a beautiful and healing experience take place within me during one.
As I slowly shifted from one pose to another, while using my breath as a tool, I began to feel my body open and my mind relax. As our final pose, before rest, we were called to Bound Angle / Butterfly Pose- Baddha Konasana. This therapeutic pose opens the hips, stretches the lower body and improves circulation. It can also relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, tension and fatigue.
As I sat in this pose with my knees butterflying open and the souls of my feet together, I became deeply reflective. I invited imagery into my practice. I was present, calm, relaxed, and at peace. Tears fell from my eyes.
I was so moved by my experience, so I pulled out my journal and began to write. This poem is the product of my experience that day and some of my more recent moments of healing.
New Season, New Moon, New Intentions
One of the most simple healing modalities I use in my work and in my life is that of sankalpa. In Sanskrit, San means “to become one with” and kalpa means “time” or the “subconscious mind.” According to yogic philosophy, sankalpa is the word for intention. Typically, it is a self-created short phrase or sentence, clearly and concisely expressed. Sankalpas foster focus, motivation, determination, paticence, and perseverance- all qualities that enable us to develop, sustain, and deepen our meditation practice. Sankalpa represents a heartfelt intention reflecting our highest ideals and points us towards our heart’s deepest desire.
In Yoga Therapy, we use sankalpa as a yogic tool to help the client design a personal intention, a resolve to bring about positive change in their life. We interweave sankalpa specifically into meditation and deep relaxation practices.
A sankalpa is often resonant during yoga Nidra, a state of deep relaxation. It is believed that when the mind is relaxed, the sankalpa can be written on the subconscious mind and in the heart.
New seasons naturally feel like a time for me to evolve my personal rituals and practices. With the arrival of a new season and the symbolism of Fall Equinox, I felt inspired to re-design and re-commit to my own personal sankalpa. I’ve been interweaving my sankalpa into my personal meditation practices as well as introducing it to my students and clients this week.
I recently began working at an addiction recovery center, integrating yogic practices and yoga therapy into small group settings. This has been a humbling and rewarding experience for me. On Fall Equinox, I was working at the center with a small group of clients. We began our practice with a grounding exercise themed around new seasons, a new moon and new intentions.
We moved through a sequence of practices, including breath work, movement and grounding. I invited them to take a few quiet moments to create and write down their own sankalpas. Then, they had the opportunity to share any reflections. They were focused, engaged and present. The reflections and intentions shared were beautiiful, poetic, and heartfelt.
Finally, we ended with a deep relaxation practice. As they rested, I scanned the room and observed each person. I was moved by the way they were able to be still and calm. On that lovely fall morning, healing took place.
To watch others heal is a gift. To experience my own healing take place at the same time is icing on the cake.
I honor all those who are in the space of healing. There is so much work to be done, and yet, I see it happening all around me. I am grateful for those who show up in healing spaces and hold space for so many others. I am thankful for the wisdom and teachings of those who have gone before us and introduced these beautiful concepts and practices. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
These simple tools can enhance our practices and give our lives direction and purpose. As we commit to daily acts of love and self-care, we are changed.
Tonight, we welcome a new moon which represents a new phase of the moon cycle. It is a perfect time to create and develop a personal sankalpa. I encourage you to reflect for a few moments today. Perhaps, write out a sankalpa. Keep it simple and personal for you. Memorize it. Then, next time you find yourself in a moment of stress, worry or fear, sit down for a few minutes and take a few deep, long breaths. Bring to mind your sankalpa. Say it to yourself several times. Visualize what it looks like, and imagine how it feels to live in this way. And then move forward with your day with a sense of confidence and trust.
This, my friends, is the work of the soul.
The Healing Work of the Soul
As we lean into fall, a season of productivity, may we work hard. May we remember to play. And may we give ourselves permission to rest.
May we embrace the beauty & savor the sweetness of the simple joys in life. May we slow down and take time to notice the miracles all around us. May we nourish ourselves with the light of the sun and nurture ourselves with the light of the moon.
May we heal our relationships with ourselves, with one another and with our beautiful Mother Earth. Let us not underestimate the power of healing that can come through the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Book Club Workshop Series
Are looking to expand and grow your practice? This year-long book club will take a deep dive into yogic philosophies without the expense of a teacher training.
- Integrating yoga into your day-to-day experiences through reading, reflection, and practice.
- Exploring diverse voices from yoga’s past and present, and applying their wisdom.
Join me for this personal karma project.
New Moon Yin, Nidra & Sound Healing Workshop
We will guide you through a medley of healing modalities including:
- Restorative Yin
- Yoga Nidra
- Healing Sound Bath
- Meditative Story
Pamper yourself with self-care at this all-inclusive workshop.
A Gift For You 🎁
One of my simple joys is music. I love creating playlists and sharing music with those I love. Some of these songs were sent to me by people I love, each playing a part in my personal journey of healing as of late. Each song, just like each of us, has a story. I hope you enjoy!
Namaste, my friends.
Love, Holly 🧘♀️
Live and Breathe your Resolutions
The Staying Power of Intention
Michele Hastie says
Thank you for sharing, Holly!! I lo e reading your blog and appreciate you and your openness!
Also, great songs!