Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Twenty years ago, two planes came crashing into two buildings that had been in my field of vision for what felt like my whole life. Twenty years since, I experienced how quickly my world can change within the span of a few hours.
I grew up in New York City —or should I say —I lived my formative years in the big apple. I had always wanted to live in NY. I would visit at Christmas and summer breaks and loved the energy of the city. When I was 11, my parents asked if I’d like to move to New York and live with my mother or continue living with my father in Montreal. I didn’t even skip a beat—I said yes.
I wasn’t expecting how much culture shock I would feel—going from a super artsy elementary school in Montreal to a public school in Queens, NY. I was blown away by the amount of anger, sadness and overall tension that would be my school, neighborhood, and friends—AND I jumped right in. I loved how much diversity there was— in people, ideas and neighborhoods. I could smell the hope and possibility all around me. It was very inspiring. My biggest takeaway of New York is that it is EVERYTHING. It is the super-rich, poor, diverse, racist, filled with possibility and destitute, a place where people fulfill their dreams and others lose them. Normal folks going about their normal days, others living a fantasy. It’s the city of extremes, and I loved all of it.
Then September 11th happened. We all remember where we were, what we were doing, who we called, who we lost. Sitting where I am now, and the year we’ve just had, i.e. pandemic—just in case you forgot— the one thing that really got me through that time was community. My community and the larger NYC community. It felt like we were all in it together. People showed up to help how/where they could and to grieve. We got through that very challenging time together.
This year has been so different, in all the obvious ways and that it’s felt so isolating. We are going through something so big, yet we haven’t been able to help or grieve together, at least not physically. So many underlying feelings have bubbled to the surface of the collective: Me Too, BLM, climate change that is now a crisis—along with our individual sh*t. I feel as though I’ve been left alone to sit with/reflect and try to figure out where the heck to go from here.
So, where does that leave us today? You? Me?
It’s left us in a paradox—
- Appreciating the time and space, we are given to reflect on who we are, who we want to be and how we want to show up for our families/community AND missing our “normal” lives and pace we were used to moving at.
- Connecting to my community through the weekly live classes AND missing the community I would see in the studios on a daily/weekly basis.
- Learning how to connect with each other in creative ways (i.e. Zoom parties, YouTube weddings, etc.) AND missing how simple it was to meet up with people or go for dinner.
You get it.
There have been pivotal times in each of our lives that have changed the way we see/think/feel – some deeply personal and others on a more global scale.
I leave you with a few questions to ponder:
- What have you learned about yourself this year? What have learned about those around you?
- When was the last pivotal point in your life? What did you learn about yourself? How did it change the way you lived?
I’ve experienced and learned so much about anxiety – my anxiety – how hard it is for me to live with so many unknowns. I’ve learned, again, how important it is for me to connect with people—people outside my bubble. What I’ve learned about those around me is how different we digest/process fear.
My last pivotal point was birthing my daughter Karmen. I learned and am continuing to learn so much about myself. Do you have a couple of hours – just kidding, but not. The biggest takeaway from this process we call parenting is that the goal is not to be perfect at it but instead to continue listening to Karmen, connecting to my intuition, and knowing that it’s all temporary. Umm, hello yoga, hello life.
In other news…
I’ve shared a new slow flow vinyasa yoga class on my YouTube Channel, Blue Throat, featuring inversions with shoulder stand. This short class is perfect for anyone seeking to open the front and side body and features Vishuddha (the 5th chakra) as the theme as we’re heading into a 7-Day Mantra Sadhana Series on Monday, September 13th!
Through mantra and the power of sound, you can shift and transform whatever you’re sitting with or working through.
Books to assist you in your exploration of mantra that I’ve found helpful include:
- Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton
- Shakti Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Forrand
My weekly recommendations –
- On Being with Krista Tippett: Bessel van der Kolk – How Trauma Lodges in the Body
- Blog Post: Relieve Abdominal Tension with the Forrest Roll
- Ani Difranco, Self Evident, a spoken word piece about 9/11
If you have any questions about training, poses, or anything else related to yoga, you can email me, post in the Facebook Group, or write us a review on the apps, and we’ll gift you a month of yoga!
Sending love and a virtual hug,
New Yoga Class: Anniversary
Can we hold two opposing feelings at the same time?
Can we feel the heaviness of a catastrophe and the lightness of the everyday miracles?
Join Clara for a 60-minute slow flow practice where we explore holding opposites. This class will work with standing leg balances, and arm binds moving towards Flamingo pose.
Prop to have: 2 Blocks, 1 Strap.
For September, our theme is “Everything but the kitchen sink.” There will be a variety of classes to give you a little bit of everything so that by the end of the month, we’ll have covered all the things – yoga poses, breathwork, mantra, meditation and philosophy.
Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist for this class.
Release Abdominal Tension with Forrest Yoga
The Forrest Roll creates constriction at the lower abdomen to restrict the flow of blood, massage the internal organs, and release the fascia that wraps around the muscles located at the belly.
This practice creates more space around the gut to breathe deeper and provides access to the hip flexors.
A symptom of our society today is very tight hip flexors from sitting at a desk or in a car. Tight hip flexors cause pain in the low back and compression at the lower spine. To relieve low back pain, releasing the hip flexors is one way to create space around the tailbone. The Forrest Roll may also assist in relieving knots in the belly from fear, anxiety, and other emotional stressors.
Watch the short tutorial to see how to make the Forrest Roll:
The Forrest Roll is a way to activate the digestive system through compression to the abdomen. Constricting the blood flow to the organs creates tension, so oxygen-rich blood flows through the body when you come off of the roll. When you restrict the blood flow, the release will create more space in the body and a surge in fresh blood to the restricted area— in this case; it’s the abdomen. This practice may encourage better digestion and healthier organs.
Benefits of the Forrest Roll:
- The roll softens the muscles around the lower abdomen to give the organs an internal massage.
- Relaxing the abdomen around the roll provides more access to the psoas muscles, aka the hip flexors. A soft abdomen provides the psoas with a deeper release. The psoas becomes tight and stained from sitting and sit behind our guts, so when we soften the belly, we have more access to the psoas muscles in front of the spine.
- As the psoas release, you may feel a rush of energy down the legs (tingling or heat).
- The roll releases the psoas muscles at the front of the pelvis, which aids in decreasing low back pain—a good pose to perform before or after a backbend class.
Read the full blog post: Relieve Abdominal Tension with the Forrest Roll
Join a 7-Day Sadhana on September 13th
In Hindu and Buddhist tradition, a Sadhana practice is a commitment to daily prayer to attain enlightenment.
The discipline (tapas) effort in Sadhana helps cultivate an inner awareness of your responsibilities and reactions to adversity.
In Sadhana, you show up every day—especially on the days you do not want to. Commitment is easy when you are happy, well-rested, and have the time to dedicate to your practice. Sadhana is difficult when you are irritated, bored, tired, and lack the patience, effort, and energy to commit to your ritual.
A transformative spiritual experience— Sadhana translates as ‘realization’ from Sanskrit.
Join us for a 7-Day Sadhana Series to celebrate the power of mantra and movement this fall.
Monday, September 13th – Sunday, September 19th, take the on-demand classes of your choice!
For the inaugural 7-Day Sadhana Series, we’re featuring mantras and short movement practices for you to feel clear, grounded, and more attuned to those around you.
Mantra is a powerful tool to focus your mind and attention on a specific word or phrase. Chanting mantras help you release positive energies into the universe.
Here’s how you join:
1. Get the Mantra | 7-Day Sadhana Series playlist on your Practice with Clara App.
2. Join the community Facebook Group to connect with yogis worldwide.