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“Hot day? Restorative Yoga”

secondchances-6It was about 1PM on a very unusually hot fall day, close to 90 degrees, in the heart of Downtown L.A.’s business corridor. I had left my office on the corner of 5th and Flower, walking east toward the Biltmore Hotel, which takes up a large part of the city block, to run a lunchtime errand at the Jewelry Mart. As I crossed the street toward the north side of the Biltmore, I observed a phalanx of film crew trucks lined up, blocking the street access all around the area. The Biltmore Hotel has always been one of the most locally sought-after filming locations in the city, archiving classic film scenes like the Fabulous Baker Boys, in 1989, starring the Bridges brothers, Beau and Jeff, with the famous piano scene played by Michelle Pfeiffer as Susie Diamond, sexy in red, shot at the Rendezvous Court of the hotel.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye a young, tall, muscular homeless man leaning against the building by the service and mechanical stairway, where the sidewalk narrows. As gentrification encroaches on the city, the population of those without shelter, food and basic necessities has reached epic proportions. I also noticed ahead, on the sidewalk, a group of about eight film crewmen in work boots, standing by, waiting for their next action command. I walked toward the crew, while passing the homeless man leaning against the wall. Suddenly, my passive observations became real life action. The homeless man leapt from the wall, thrusting me against the movie truck parked at the curb, blocking my forward motion, and in an angry rage, spewed a big gulp-sized wad of spit on my face, neck and torso. Attacks like this take the brain a few precious seconds to recalibrate to fight or flight mode, emoting a “you are in danger” signal that causes every hair on the body to stand at attention. While what happened next was a blur, this I can confirm; pulling from years of yoga, I stood tall in Tadasana, or mountain pose, and looked my attacker in the eye and calmly, with my sword down, said to him, “ Why would you do something like this to me?” As I did this, an energetic and physical separation occurred instantly, as what only could be described as an angelic presence separated him from me and caused him to recoil and move back, while his wide eyes and flailing arms motioned, he screamed out, “ I am sick of all you bitches, I hate you all!” It was at that moment, knowing I was safe, although disgustingly violated, that I began to seek “physical” help. Not one of the crewmembers came to my aid, all managed to disappear. There were no police anywhere, and so I wandered into the hotel, where a very kind security guard came to help. By this time my attacker was long gone, vanishing into the fabric of LA like a cockroach slipping into a wall crack out of sheer survival.

A few days after my attack, I noticed a pattern of violence emerging, as NCIS actress Pauley Perrette’s Hollywood homeless attack became front-page news. Her situation, similar, yet far more violent, portended a disturbing and dark energy emerging on our streets. Men standing near her, witnessing the attack, too, did not aid her. Are we becoming that immune to violence in our society or so apathetic that when a fellow human is in trouble, we look the other way? I suppose the answer to this is far more complex to solve and dissect than this writing will allow.

I had no idea how an event like this would reshape my future. While I had heard of PTSD, I had mistakenly categorized its symptoms as reserved for people who had seen serious combat or actual rape or assault. I was jumpy. Anyone coming around my peripheral vision, like a valet parking attendant, caused me to jump out of my skin. The incidences worsened and I knew I had to find a way back to balance, healing and forgiveness, or this episode would haunt me forever. Fortunately, years of metaphysical and spiritual training and experiences allowed me to move through this horrific encounter and find the pearl of wisdom in it. And one of those pearls of wisdom became a restructuring of my daily yoga practice to include restorative yoga.

Restorative yoga falls into a special category of poses that have the ability to completely nourish and replenish our body-mind-spirit connection. These postures are usually supported by blankets, blocks, straps or other props and held for several minutes at a time. The more your body is fully supported, the deeper your ability to relax and surrender and settle in. Do note that while the body may find comfort in the pose, the mind can be a bit trickier to coax into submission. This takes time, especially compounded by a traumatic event like the one that happened to me on the LA streets.

The time you devote to this will be worth it in the long run. Gradually, you will find peace, forgiveness and a sense of calm and soon you will notice the return to a more balanced state of being.

There are a few great restorative yoga teachers in LA, in addition to my own private classes, which I would highly recommend:

Christopher Barbour (Equinox, Marina del Rey) www.besatya.com

Andres Salcedo (Equinox, Power Yoga, Santa Monica) www.powersoulyoga.com

Amita Stark (Bhakti Yoga Shala, Santa Monica) www.bhaktiyogashala.com

Kimber Tiernan (Life Yoga Garden, Santa Monica) www.anandagrace.com

Lori Tierney (private and retreat classes) www.redroadretreats.com

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Sacred Smoke: How to “clear the air” in your new home!

Your real estate broker has finished signing all the legal documents with you. Hopefully, you had an LA Lofts Realty broker on your side of the table! Now, with much anticipation and excitement, you hold the keys to your new Downtown LA loft in your hand and turn the key to your new front door! You step inside and take a deep breath and start to look around, walking from room to room, opening cabinets, checking under the sink in the kitchen, looking at the skyline view from the living room balcony, when suddenly you feel something strange. You can’t quite put your finger on what you felt but you certainly don’t remember the space being “quite” like it is now, empty of furniture, family photos and all the trappings of the previous occupants. You are now alone in your new empty home and it doesn’t exactly feel like you remembered it to be. What do you do?

Well, you say to yourself, it’s time for a smoke! No, not the cigarette or cigar version, but its time to light up a wand of white sage, or sacred smoke, as the Ancient Ones called it. Our Native American ancestors understood the art of clearing space and setting new intentions for a dwelling. Considering everything is energy, vibrating and in motion, it stands to reason that some of those vibrating little particles of energy just may have decided to hang around your new home.

In Feng Shui, one of the key principles of the practice involves understanding the “Predecessor Law”, or finding out just what happened in the space to the people who lived there previously, before you arrived. Was it a large promotion that prompted their move? Or a divorce, or a bankruptcy? Did they sue the contractor who built it? Or perhaps someone passed on in the home or recovered from an accident there? Or perhaps they found their love for life partner and said their “I do’s” in the living room!

With one’s powerful individual intentions, an abalone shell, white sage wand, open windows and a lighter, one can clear the past and reset the energies, recalibrate the property to anchor in the energies most supportive to the new occupant’s life goals. If you are not feeling up to this on your own, and there are many who believe that only trained Shamans should work with these tools, there are certainly gifted practitioners that are sensitive or attuned to energy patterns and can clear them appropriately. It is important to approach this clearing reverently and to honor the gifts from the planet and those ancestors that walked before us, generously leaving this information for our own earth walk.

SAGE
For driving out negativity and for healing, white sage is preferred.
The botanical name for sage is Salvia (e.g. Salvia officinalis, Garden Sage, or Salvia apiana, White Sage). Salvia comes from the Latin root salvare, which means, “to heal”.

With the sage wand lit and the abalone shell below to catch any falling embers, begin your new home clearing ritual with clockwise circular motions allowing for the smoke to fill the air and to cleanse the space of any discordant energies/experiences that may have remained from the previous occupants. Allow yourself to flow from room to room, calling forth that which you are choosing to allow into your experience and thanking the “unseen guidance” that is supporting your new journey. Close your ceremony in gratitude and make a simple offering of something personal to Mother Earth. It can be a rock, crystal, a lock of hair, tobacco, a flower or anything special to you that will be left by you in thanksgiving. If you live in a high-rise building, you can leave your offering in a plant if you wish.

Now, retrace your steps and re-enter your new home, confident that the space is now ready to support your dreams and goals!

By Lori Tierney
Lori Tierney is an author, interior designer and Feng Shui practitioner. She can be reached through her web site at loritierney.net

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Going with the flow of life: When things don’t go the way you planned! Welcome to the Chinese New Year of the Green Horse 2014

Life is a great mystery. Eastern mystics, sages, yogis and shamans of every culture and spiritual affiliation would most likely not argue this statement. We start out on our life path young and eager for what lies ahead. We lay the best foundation we can muster given our unique circumstances, family or lack of, environment, geography, health conditions and soul agreements for this particular lifetime’s journey. We may not be “conscious” of any of these agreements when we take life’s first steps, but as time reveals, the agreements will often get the better of our best laid plans. The old adage that says,” God is indeed a comedian because if you want to make God laugh just tell Her your plans”… comes to mind. ( you can inset a “Him” if you must or any other name you prefer)

Some of us from an early age map out our entire life, the type of career we plan to have, who we plan to marry, number and even sex of the children we will have, type of home we will live in, the number we will have in our bank account at 30, 40, 50 and beyond. And then life happens. None of what we had planned for manifests and we look back about mid life and scratch our heads and wonder what the heck happened to all our plans! Some of us begin to take a “loss” on what has not happened according to these best laid plans or what has managed to sneak into our lives in its place. Maybe we experience rejection from our parents when we tell them that we have decided to not go to med school but plan to join the Peace Corp. instead. Or we experience a divorce, or two or three and wonder how can this be happening to us? We try and do all the conventional things to build a little nest egg, like buy a home, and then a massive mortgage and banking scandal sweeps our country and our nest egg goes out the window with this tsunami. And then we lose our best friend to cancer and our children grow up, move away and decide to never come home again for the holidays, let alone call us once in awhile. And we wonder where did we go wrong when they were growing up? And then we begin to lose faith in ourselves, family, friends in the Universe that we had hoped had our backs! For many of us a deep depression can set in and for some it’s like a fog that never lifts. In Sanskrit it is called Avidya, a deep fog or illusion that keeps us from seeing and experiencing the truth. Like a racehorse with blinders on, we only see directly in front of us when all the answers and messages are really above us, below us, or in our peripheral vision.

As we enter the Chinese New Year of the Green Horse January 30th, 2014 let us welcome in this magickal being and all that it symbolizes: freedom, passion, fresh perspectives, harmony for the good of all, personal connectivity and the strength to achieve our goals no matter what we think might stand in our way of achieving them. This is a year of luck and the time to not give up on dreams but to dream even bigger dreams as you ride your horse to your own personal victory.

Yoga Pose: To help you focus your energies on your dreams add Warrior 2 and Dancers Pose to your personal yoga practice this month and remember that your breath initiates and ends the movement in your poses. Namaste and Happy new Year!

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My Insens Blog: How 120 Days of Yoga Transformed Me

I arose on October 28 with a newfound sense of accomplishment for my ability to actually find the inner strength—through years of turmoil from divorces, loss, death, financial ruin, cancer and betrayal—to finish 120 days of consecutive yoga practice. I realize this may seem utterly ridiculous to those who were born with discipline and determination and would find my challenge to be a cakewalk. We don’t need pats on the back for brushing our teeth everyday or taking a shower, so why would we expect accolades for doing 120 days of consecutive yoga as a personal experiment in self-love, forgiveness and discipline? Indeed, many would scoff at someone who felt the need to embark on a yoga quest that involved counting days of practice vs naturally integrating yoga’s gentle rhythm into everyday existence.

Anyone who scoffs must not have lived my life. And this is where compassion enters the picture. I was shocked at the reactions I received from some self-appointed spiritual people, including teachers, whom I encountered through my journey and the judgment that my 120 days evoked in them.

But this October 28 was sweet for me. My 120th day of practice was spent in an early morning goddess class with five beautiful women in a nurturing, supportive environment. The class was fluid, filled with laughter and grace. The teacher, Honeybee, is pixie cute with a fairy-like twinkle in her eyes that spells mischief! She has a gentle kindness to her manner and her class was perfect and fitting for my last day of this particular yoga journey experiment. It reflected to me my own journey as a woman, a being who chose to incarnate into female form at this time of transition and transformation on earth.

The practice of yoga, especially Bhakti yoga, has been the missing link to my finding some inner calm and balance in what has been a turbulent life experience. It is a practice that is forever and belongs to everyone, not just the lithe, beautiful models who grace the covers of yoga magazines. It’s for young girls, moms, grandmothers, young men, dads and grandfathers. It is for those with pounds to lose or pounds to gain, for those struggling with disease or enjoying wellness, for those with all of their limbs and those without. It is a celebration of the human condition in all its forms and iterations in any given moment in time. It is one that I truly hope each of you reading these words will experience in your own way and your own time as you celebrate the teacher within. My wish for you as you embark upon or continue your yoga journey is for shelter, a nourishing supply of food for your body and soul, clean fresh water to drink, friendship, fellowship, wellness, peace, grace, self love, ananda (bliss) and the unconditional love of the divine, as you realize your own inner samadhi, as you enjoy the lila, the enchanted dance of your existence.

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