Practice

Sit With: A Wise and Wild Women's Meditation

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There is a soft and yet FIERCE compassion to the feminine.
— Meredith

Welcome to another episode of Sit With: A Meditation and Contemplation Podcast. Today's episode has been designed for women, though anyone is invited and encouraged to practice. It's a sneak peak to what will be offered and explored in this year's Wise and Wild Women's Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico. This meditation invites you to connect to and nourish the source of the feminine, the creative, and the intuitive. It's an offering of breathing sweetly, moving freely, and expressing powerfully. We spend some time connecting heart to womb and then rocking the pelvic bowl forward and back and around in circles, churning and stirring the feminine pot. This is a practice of awakening and owning the power of creativity and intuition, and expressing fiercely through dance, painting, writing, speech, or simply being present.

 

May this practice nourish, heal, and inspire ourselves, families, communities, and societies. 

 

OM NAMASTE


Wise and Wild Women's Meditation Practice

  • place hand over heart and breathe
  • gently touch in and slide hand down to womb and breathe
  • tilt pelvic bowl forward, reach your sitting bones back and allow belly to fall forward
  • rock pelvic bowl back, reach your sitting bones forward and allow belly to fall back
  • breathe sweetly and continue to rock forward back for a few minutes, inviting a softness and suppleness through low back
  • start to churn in circles, stirring the feminine for another few minutes
  • pause and notice what you feel

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Sit With Meditation: On The Abundance In Each Moment

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Breathe in and experience the fullness of the lungs, the expansion of the body, and the abundance that exists in each moment. May we think, speak, and act from this place of enough-ness and offer the practice up to the wellness and freedom for all beings.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu


Empower: A Strong Vinyasa Flow

Dearest Friends,

I have had this practice filmed and ready to go since November and yet have been putting it off. In an act of kindness to myself, I gently observed this hesitancy with a curiosity and patience. Why wouldn't I publish this video? It's a beautiful and powerful practice and one that I am really, truly proud of. I hired my good friend Kitty to do what she does best and the quality and production is absolutely amazing. So why? Why the hesitation?

I've come to realize that this video captured me during a vulnerable period in my life. I intentionally share that I made the decision to end a long-term relationship and therefore, move out and into a new home, with a new roommate. This conscious shift created space for me to see and engage with new friends, work, activities, and the most unexpected... a new partner. I share the grace and ease of the transition in this Spirit Wellness Journal piece that I wrote back in December. The unfolding of the transition was smoother than I could have planned and yet STILL, I am realizing now that there was (and is) simply a lot to awaken to.

I have found myself more social than I have ever been, having more work than I have ever had, and exploring my wildest adventures yet. I've gone camping more in the last few months than I have been since the six years I've lived in the Bay Area and just bought my first surfboard! I feel confident in who I am and how I'm choosing to engage in the world AND I feel tired some days. I live in Berkeley and drive in and out of San Francisco every day and sometimes twice a day. So while I've been experiencing abundance socially, professionally, and romantically, I also feel full at the end of the day- sometimes exhausted.

Hence, the lack of content and activity on social platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook.

I am realizing that vulnerability is one entry point to the present moment. My openness to share my story in real-time and with my close community has given me the opportunity to make deeper and more meaningful connections. My vulnerability has challenged me to have honest conversations with people, places, and myself, which has added a vibrant color and satisfying texture to my life. My vulnerability has fueled a drive to be active in the moment- it has been life-giving and fulfilling and it is my intention to continue being vulnerable and awake in the world.

It's now March and my circumstances have stabilized a bit. I've settled into a routine and so have a bit more energy to create and publish content here and on some other platforms. However, I have really enjoyed being present and letting the days unfold without the attachment to technology and so I'm wanting to find a balance that I feel good about. I love writing for the Spirit Wellness Journal and sharing bits and pieces of the yoga practice that I have found meaningful in my own life. I want to continue to offer in this way and to use technology and social media to connect authentically and to support and inspire the community that we have built.

And so... without further ado, I am happy and proud to share Empower: A Strong Vinyasa Flow. It is steeped in the Earth AND initiates the fire within. There are some core elements and an invitation to play with forearm stand! It is my hope that you find this practice as grounding and empowering as I do.

OM NAMASTE

Meredith

Sadhana: Awaken and Energize Your Home Practice

Hi and Happy New Year!

I'm very excited to whole-heartedly invite you to my first offering of the year, Sadhana: Awaken and Energize Your Home Practice. This workshop will be offered four times in 2018 and is designed to be a year-long investigation of YOGA as a living and practical practice.

Together, we will explore and cultivate a home practice that feels alive, nourishing, and sustainable for YOU. This will include movement, breath work, and meditation. All of this will be steeped in the teachings of the Yoga-Sutra and there will be a special interest in the yamas and niyamas, the first two limbs of the 8-limbed path described by Pantanjali. We will use the yamas and niyamas as launching points for contemplation, awakening, and integration. They will be our inspiration to fold into our essence or spirit wisdom IN ORDER TO unfold back out into the world with more clarity, attention, and intention.

May this practice be an offering to all beings everywhere. May our thoughts, words, and actions contribute to the well-being and freedom from suffering for all.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Suggested Reading:
Yoga For a World Out of Balance by Michael Stone

Schedule & Structure:
This training will be offered four times in 2018 (1/14, 3/17, 8/12, 12/9). Students can either attend a single session OR commit to a year-long investigation in philosophy and life practice.*

*Meredith’s Tues/Thurs morning classes FOLLOWING the session are included in this program.

This course provides 3 Elective Contact Hours for YGSF’s 300 Hour Program [3 Yoga Alliance® CEUs].

Tuition is $75, or $55 if you enroll by 12/31.

YGSF Members receive 10% off the regular price of this workshop. Alumni receive 15% off the regular price of this workshop.

Episode 1 of Sit With: Breathe and Be AWAKE in the World

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HELLO!

I am so excited to share the very first episode of Sit With: A Meditation and Contemplation Podcast. In this week's episode, I take some time guiding you to a comfortable and sustainable seat. It certainly takes some effort to sit nice and tall but the key is finding the EASE within the effort or the SOFTNESS within the structure. This is true for the yoga practice and the life practice, as well- right? If you need a visual or some extra support in finding a seat, please watch this beautiful video . I share some different sitting options as well as some general meditation tips. Once we are settled, I guide you through a 4-part breathing technique used to lengthen the breath, strengthen the lungs, and activate prana or life-force in the body.

The parts are:

  1. The Inhalation
  2. A Moment of Retention
  3. The Exhalation
  4. Another Moment of Retention (with breath held out)

I follow up with a simple, focal point meditation. In today's practice, the focal point is the tip of nose and specifically feeling each breath come in and through the nostrils. If you are newer to this practice, the mind will wander almost immediately. I talk a bit about the habits of the mind and where it tends to go. The important thing to remember is that meditation is a PRACTICE and mindfulness is knowing where the attention is. It might be a while until you even notice that the mind has wandered, but when you do... AHA! This is the moment to PRACTICE letting go of whatever has arisen and to practice shifting the attention back to the focal point. The cycle of drifting and returning will happen again and again so be patient, kind, and gentle with yourself. Over time, you will be able to rest the attention on the focal point longer- experiencing space, calm, and clarity.

For me, this is the HEART of yoga. This practice of sitting and noticing where my mind, attention, and energy is has been life-changing and life-giving. It has given me the ability to know when thoughts, emotions, and sensations arise and it has given me the tools to pause, connect to my wisdom and THEN respond and engage in life. You might notice yourself reacting less and responding with more intention and direction. This is a powerful, empowering, and really gentle and kind practice and I hope you find it as energizing as I do. 

As always, please comment or email me with any questions, experiences, or insights. I love hearing from you!

Lots of Love,

Meredith

 

Introducing Sit With: A Meditation and Contemplation Podcast

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I am so excited to share my newest project, Sit With: A Meditation and Contemplation podcast! This will be a weekly invitation to start your week with clarity, calm, and intention. I will be sharing simple and accessible meditation practices that I have found life-changing and life-giving. I love yoga and the movement practice but for me, meditation is the HEART of yoga. It is through this practice that I have learned to know where my attention is and to more consciously and kindly CHOOSE where and how to place it. Meditation has given me the tools and skills to be awake in the world. It is through this practice of sitting that I am more able to walk through my days and life with rich energy, vitality, and passion. 

So mark your calendars, subscribe below, and join me Monday, November 13th for our very first episode!

Lots of Love,

Meredith


Honoring the Practice, My Teacher Janet Stone, and this LIFE

This is why I love spring. It is full of hope.
— someone in Cliff's Variety

Two weeks ago I overheard someone in San Francisco's Cliff's Variety store say, "This is why I love spring. It's full of hope." I was shopping for a few kitchen items for my new cosy home before heading to yoga class at Yoga Tree Castro. I paused briefly to put the statement in my back pocket before quickly finishing my errands and heading to the studio.

On my mat, next to one hundred other mats, I heard my teacher Janet Stone talk with clarity and insight. She has a way of not saying much while speaking to the depths of my soul. That night she spoke of our internal rhythms- the in breath and the out breath, the expansion and the contraction, the rise and the fall- and how it matches the universal rhythms of night and day, light and dark, heaven and earth, life and death. She has that secret way of making you feel like you are actually a part of this world.

She then had us connect to the space in-between- the movement, time, and space in-between the inhale and exhale. Although she has spoken of this before and I have practiced and taught this idea many times over, this night it felt real in a way I had never understood it before. 

I realized that spring is full of hope because it is that time in-between... in-between winter and summer. It is a season where we celebrate the magic and the potential that exists in the in-between moments. AHA! EACH moment is an in-between moment! Each moment has the magic and potential for growth, healing, joy, and love.

Despite the epiphany that night, the polarities continue to show up in my life. I teach kindergarten at an all girls school and there is conversation about girl and boy, masculine and feminine. I heard the inspiring Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and social activist, publicly talk about black and white, justice and injustice, hope and despair. And all around me I catch myself labeling people, situations, and things as good or bad, right or wrong.

Then I remember that this is the practice! When I do have the awareness of my own binary thinking, I practice coming back to the teaching of the space in-between. I practice being fully awake to what is and simply being present for the magical spectrum of this life.

I practice being fully awake to what is and simply being present for the magical spectrum of this life.
Water and Light by Holly Anderson

Water and Light by Holly Anderson

As my teacher travels here, there and everywhere (maybe she is in Singapore or Bali, I can't quite keep track), may she know that her teachings continue to evolve and be understood in deeper ways. May we all take a moment to honor our own teachers. May we take a moment to honor our teacher's teacher and their teacher's teacher. May we take a moment to honor the lineage of this practice of yoga and may we honor this thing we call life.

To learn more about Janet Stone, visit her website.

OM NAMASTE,

Meredith

Cultivating A Morning Ritual

Mornings have always been a magical time for me- the peace and quiet that is available is unlike anything I can find amongst the busy day. I have found, for me, it is the perfect time to nourish and cleanse the body, mind and spirit, and to clearly set the path for an open and energized day. Below are my recommendations for a morning ritual. Start with one or try them all! Try it for TWO weeks and see if it makes a difference in your life.

1. Wake before the sunrise- I have found that there is a deep and calming energy to be felt right before the sun rises. I feel rooted in the Earth and a part of the universal rhythm of day and night, rise and fall, open and close.

2. Drink a glass of hot lemon water- Simply squeeze a bit of lemon juice in a hot glass of water. This will hydrate the body and cleanse toxins from the day before. I DO still drink coffee because what can I say... I LOVE the smell and taste. But I usually have my coffee after a few hours of waking and moving.

3. Wash your face- Abhyanga is a form of ayurvedic medicine that involves massaging the WHOLE body with warm coconut oil. Traditionally it is done before the day starts, before you shower and practice yoga. During the week, I tend to simply wash my face with COLD water and apply coconut oil on after. It leave my skin feeling hydrated and smooth. I usually hold the full Abhyanga practice for the weekend mornings. 

4. Practice pranayama- I say this in my class ALL the time but the word, "yama" means the creation or the maintance of breath and "prana" is life force or energy. By moving the breath, we can begin to shift the energy in the body. There are all types of breathwork in the practice of yoga but I particularly like to practice KAPALBHATI breath in the winter season. It is short exhales through the nose with a contraction of the belly in toward the spine. It acts as a furnace, heating the body, and is also very energizing and cleansing. A set is 20, 50, or a 100 exhales. Come through two or three sets.

5. Move- Come through nine simple sun salutations- any variation that will leave you feeling good and energized. Move SLOWLY- one breath, one movement, one thought at a time.

6. Meditate- Sit in meditation for 5-10 minutes. The attention can be set on the sensation of moving the breath in and out. You will notice that the mind will begin to wander- either to the past or the future- and this practice is choosing to bring the attention back to the present moment. Don't be discouraged if the mind moves A LOT! The nature of the mind is to move, so see and welcome the wandering as an opportunity to PRACTICE meditation. That is all it is- a PRACTICE.

If you want some guidance, a community or support- come practice with me at Yoga Garden SF. I teach a vinyasa class M/W/F mornings at 6 am and a yoga and meditation class T/Th mornings at 6:15 am. And as I said earlier- keep it simple and attainable in the beginning. Maybe wake 10 minutes early and try one of these practices until it becomes a habit. Then add on. Be curious, stay open and observe the difference it makes in your daily life. 

Light and Love,

M