We are happy to announce another "Wellness Hike" taking place this Sunday at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, one of the most beautiful preserved redwoods forests groves on the northern California coast. We'll meet the morning of May 22nd and begin with about an hour hike. At the end of the hike we'll gather at the Forest Amphitheater in the park where we'll practice some gentle yoga for about 40 minutes, all levels are welcome. Then we will serve an full Ayurvedic meal, picnic style and enjoy our food and tea under the redwoods trees. It should be a be a wonderful day and you all are invited!
These kind of "Wellness Hike" events came about by wanting to provide people a full experience in nature, connected to the body and breath, and nourished by wholesome food. With all of us leading busy lives, we know that quiet time in nature can be the best reset and way to recharge ourselves. This event is intended to provide you with things that make most of us feel healthy and good ---time immersed in the natural elements, yoga-based movement, breath work, relaxation, a home cooked meal...etc. Yet, it's also intended to be a 'mini day retreat' unplugged from technology and the to-do list to just be with yourself and others and be filled with prana from these ancient trees (some of the them are 1300 years old). Of course, you're welcome to stay in the park as long as you want and make a whole day out of it.
Here are some other details:
*arrive at the Visitor Center parking lot by 9:30am
*bring water, layers of clothes, and wear comfortable walking shoes
*bring a yoga mat if you have one or we'll provide one for you
*the Ayurvedic meal will have vegan and gluten-free options
*kids are welcome over the age of 13
*groups of three or more can come for $30 each
*no one is turned away for financial reason, donate whatever you can
*we will have someone playing acoustic music at the end of the yoga class and through part of the meal
*we'll be back to the Visitor Center parking lot by 1pm the latest
I hope to see some of you this Sunday! To confirm you repsond to this event, call or text (707) 696-7425, or email TakeAHikeWithUs@gmail.com.
♥ ♥ ♥
It's not too late to sign up for our retreat this weekend! We're inviting all woman, daughters, and mothers to join us for our second day-long Silent Retreat at the Angela Center, Santa Rosa California. The day will be filled with meditation, medical qigong, walking the gardens and labyrinth, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, and time for quiet reflection. It will be a day unplugged and tuned in - to simply listen and enjoy the practices together. See the RSVP link below. Happy Mother's Day weekend, Camina
I'm happy to announce that some new recordings are available. Relax & Be Well is designed to provide guided practices you can use throughout the day to cultivate ease and greater alignment with nature's guiding rhythms.
I'm looking forward to guiding a retreat with my mom, Shirley Gillotti this coming Monday, October 12th. Not only is it the New Moon, but also a great time of year to begin turning inward again. It will be a full day of quiet reflection and journeying through the inner senses. The retreat will be held at the Angela Center in northern Santa Rosa that has beautiful walking trails and a labyrinth on the grounds. It's not too late to join us. If you'd like to attend, RSVP to the email below. Happy Fall Season everyone!
"Yoga Nidra reminds us that we always have access to a calm place within - a place that's
overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known"
Last month I had the honor to assist Dr. Marc Halpern in his Yoga Nidra Certification Course at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. Having taken the course several years prior it was a great experience to reabsorb the teachings and support other students on their journey. The ashram setting created an ideal environment for learning with a daily rhythm that included yogic practices, proper meals, minimal sensory stimulation, and community satsang.
For those who are not familiar with Yoga Nidra, it is a state of consciousness described as "yogic sleep." There are a variety of approaches and techniques, but most of them use a guided meditation to bring you into as deep of a relaxed space as you can be while remaining awake and aware (not falling asleep). This state of consciousness is much more easily understood through experience than by describing how you may feel or listing the various benefits. Once in this state, various things may come up.
The practice is to surrender and witness whatever is arising. By giving yourself permission to rest, receive, and simply be with yourself, an opportunity for healing naturally occurs.
Throughout the course I observed our group open up in the most beautiful ways. I watched as they became more aware of physical sensation in the body, as well as acute tension in the subtle body. Yoga Nidra helps to bring awareness to areas we may be avoiding, or where awareness may be lacking. This could initially result in pain or discomfort. The opportunity here it to let go. Again, and again, until there's no longer a need for holding and the prana, or energy can flow freely again. By the end of the course it seemed that everyone was walking around in an extremely calm, dream-like state. I've noticed a similar response when teaching classes back home as people drop into a great sense of familiarity and ease.
In our busy day-to-day lives it can be rare to pause and 'do nothing.' I find that most people long for this form of nurturing and rejuvenation and usually sigh with relief upon arrival to a class. "You mean I just get to lay here?!?!" Yes, you can stop. Yes, you can be still. And yes, you can let it all go. The class environment really makes us put everything down and just for that hour unplug from our daily tasks completely. I've seen remarkable accumulated effects of this practice. Not only have I seen it lower blood pressure and reduce pain, but also help retrain the nervous system to respond to stress in a new way.
You don't have to be on a beach in the Bahamas to enter this state of consciousness. It takes you beyond time and space and even beyond this body. It shows us that any level of peacefulness and beauty that we may experience, is in fact, the peacefulness and beauty that we are. It teaches us that healing is possible and that we are the creators of our lives. Above all, Yoga Nidra reminds us that we always have access to a calm place within - a place that's overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known.
I'm a fan of anything that brings us into greater contact with our inner knowing and increases our capacity to radiate peacefulness in the world. If you are new to Yoga Nidra, no experience is needed and no props are needed. All that is required is your full presence and if you are just beginning, you'll need the guidance of an instructor's voice. There are a lot great resources and recordings so I recommend experimenting with a few and finding a voice and style you connect with most. I'm excited to see Yoga Nidra brought into various communities, as I whole-heartedly believe it can benefit all.
I'm very much looking forward to this event in a couple weeks. A dear friend and colleague of mine have been dreaming of collaborating together and now the time is ripe! We both share the love of nature, as well as offering yogic and ayurvedic practices that increase awareness and self-care. What better place to learn about ourselves and connected to one another other than being fully immersed in the elements?! Come move your body, tune in, quiet the mind, and meditate on the beauty of simply being here. Email us at: TakeAHikeWithUs@gmail.com to sign up. Xo
Another season has come and gone and we're here to mark and celebrate this "sacred juncture" with a mini day retreat. For those of you in the area, join us this Sunday for a 6-mile hike, guided meditation, and Ayurvedic education on seasonal wellness. Check out the event page for more details. In the meantime, here are some questions to reflect upon as we make this transition:
Yoga Nidra 4-Week Series starts tomorrow at the dhyana Center. Come relax and enjoy!
Yoga Nidra is not a practice, but rather a state of consciousness that can be achieved through particular relaxation techniques, visualizations, and body-awareness meditation. While various methods are used, most of them involve laying on your back with your eyes closed and following the guidance of an instructor’s voice through each body part. Most of all, it's about turning the awareness inward, becoming a witness to the experience, and welcoming whatever arises.
Yoga = Union, Oneness
Nidra = Sleep
Definition: "yogic sleep" or expanded awareness in a state of deep-relaxation
Although Yoga Nidra is referred to as “yogic sleep,” you don’t actually sleep, but rather come as close to the sleeping state as you can while remaining awake and present. The goal is that from our deepest level of relaxation, the physiology of the body can return to balance and healing can occur. Some known benefits of relaxation are reduced sympathetic nervous system activity (fight-or-flight response), improved functioning of the immune system, lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, improved circulation, pain reduction, and reduced inflammation.
The origins of Yoga Nidra are not precise, yet there is mention of Yoga Nidra in various ancient vedic texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. “Modern” pioneers in the field have been the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Satyananda Saraswati and founder of the Himalayan Institute, Swami Rama. More currently, Dr. Richard Miller, the founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapy developed the iRest technique that has been successfully implemented into many VA hospitals and military bases to help PTSD victims. Dr. Richard Miller has also conducted several research studies that have shown the benefits of ongoing relaxation and meditation practices, as well as the unique, altered-state of Yoga Nidra.
“During Yoga Nidra, we intentionally locate and investigate sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts and images. We go into them. We explore them. We bring them into consciousness. As these impressions are allowed to float freely in awareness, without our trying to repress or express them, they arise and fade away into the background, no longer bothersome to the mind because the mind has no intention to refuse or deny their existence. This approach of pratyahahra (to draw the prana of the subtle senses inward) is a process of elimination whereby unconscious material is allowed to surface into awareness, into consciousness. When repressed material arises without personal reaction, it dissolves.” –Dr. Richard Miller (Developer of iRrest and founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute founded in 2005).
“Just sitting quietly, or say watching television, is not enough to produce the physiological changes. You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” – Dr. Herbert (Benson of Beth Israel Hospital School in Boston, author of the Relaxation Response 1975 with updates edition in 2000).
Through PET and EEG recording, the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School (Nov. 12, 2009) found that Yoga Nidra takes people into Theta state with secondary Alpha waves meaning simultaneous deep meditation and awareness. This confirms that meditation is a fourth major state of consciousness in addition to dreaming, sleeping, and wakefulness. One can be completely aware in a deep state and one can consciously experience and control the brain’s activity simultaneously.
Overall, experiencing Yoga Nidra on a regular basis is a valuable complementary approach to supporting any healing process and to ensure overall wellbeing.
Sources & Resources:
Integration Restoration Institute - www.irest.us
Books: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Yoga Nidra:
A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing by Richard Miller
Amongst the stress, the worry, and strategizing of life, how can we accept that this, this right here is indeed perfect? What's behind all the 'doing' when we take a step inward and listen? What happens when we make space to really be and welcome whatever arises?
Yoga Nidra, also known as "yogic sleep", is a deep relaxation practice geared toward calming the mind and nervous system. It involves laying down on your back with your eyes closed and being guided through a body-awareness meditation. This practice is designed to invoke an overall sense of ease, and help us access a peaceful place within that remains steady through all of life's ups and downs.
Join me on Wednesday mornings from 10-11:30am at the Center for Inner Health and Stillness in Santa Rosa for Yoga Nidra. Come to truly relax, let go, and enjoy the moment. A new 6-week series begins this week ($50). Contact me for details. XO
Welcome to this blog!
"harmonize with nature, walk a path
of balance" ❤