Allie Middleton, JD LCSW E-RYT C-IAYT on Moving From Me to We

In an old and favorite verse from thousands of years ago, the author of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5, considers this:

You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.

And yet, as we all wonder about the future now, shall we ask each other this next question, “What is OUR collective desire and what shall OUR collective deeds create now?

In my experience over decades as a systems change catalyst and leadership coach, I’ve had the privilege of helping many individuals and teams develop new strategies for high level impact. Whether in business, healthcare or communities, one of my initial questions is, “Who are we really, and what is our work?

Today, this creative inquiry is alive in many contexts as we need to spark healthy ways to co-initiate collective sustainable changes for the sake of global health and wellbeing. How do we compassionately harmonize our minds, hearts and wills for the sake of the planet and others? Or “What is this moving from ME to WE dance all about, and how does sharing our stories help us now?

As the lives of the global yoga innovators reveal in my new book, Yoga Radicals: A Curated Set of Inspiring Stories from Pioneers in the Field, this awareness for the need for change is happening for people around the world on many levels simultaneously: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Their perspectives reflect an opening toward something new, a creative offer that has social impact and provides community healing.

How might we inspire others with creative heart-felt ways to experience and understand this epochal move from ME consciousness, (focus on myself), to WE consciousness, (focus on my community, country and planet)?

Telling our stories is the starting place, as we learn to listen more deeply into the universal (and eternal) creative life force that emerges and encourages well-being for all. Accessing our collective awareness and moving together consciously to create sustainable changes at all levels of organization is essential now.

Like other practitioners in these changing times, I am learning to adapt to the complex personal and planetary issues with curiosity, compassion and courage. At the 2018 International Association of Yoga Therapists Conference I was privileged to co-initiate the inaugural community interest session on Social Activism & Community Healing. At the invitation of Matthew J. Taylor, we convened our session using a Presencing Approach, an interview process combining Joseph Campbell’s hero(ines) journey and an awareness-based prototyping model from the Presencing Institute at MIT. This birthed the interest for a deeper and more expansive exploration.

And now, as I type this, I remember myself in the winter of 2020, commissioned by Singing Dragon Press, to write a book to bring this idea forth! The intention of the book, Yoga Radicals, is to offer a portal of potential for the emerging embodiment community by highlighting some stories and projects that emerged from yoga innovators who have traveled the path of moving from ME to WE. Alas, there are so many more stories to hear we have yet to hear. So little time……

What I learned from each of their stories is that after deep commitment to years of personal practice, something else demanded a listening into the emerging future, a finding of new ways to invoke shifts in their (and now our) deepest hearts’ desires.

We were all in full lockdown mode as I conducted the 36 interviews with these special yoga innovators. The stories of these amazing individuals vibrate at the heart of the Yoga Radicals book. I am so grateful to have had such a deep engagement with each person at such an important time; each working in unique ways to establish the yoga therapy professional space, each offering more embodiment in their personal lives and professional communities. I hope you and many others will enjoy and be inspired by their stories too.

Ancient wisdom traditions from all over the planet remind us that we are all connected, that these practices and an Embodied Presence, or being grounded and at home in our bodies, might enlighten us. Embodiment practices are particularly urgent now as our mother planet earth demands that we learn the dance steps of Reciprocity and Love. The stories from the Yoga Radicals in the book do just that, sharing how each yoga innovator moved from a ‘me’ consciousness to a ‘we’ consciousness. These amazing brave souls share how they created a community healing or social impact project as a result of their long-term yoga and other embodied practices as leaders. I hope the interview process and journey we took together will support others to access to their deepest heart’s intelligence, a true connection between awareness, creativity and action.

An example of this Presencing Approach is to ask now, “It seems we have been initiated into a new future and a new life in these last 18 months, I wonder how you feel a deeper sense of being related to others across time and space? Without physical travel, we’ve had to rely on our other human capacities to stay tuned to our hearts’ desires; even as we navigate this new time together. We have landed in communities of kindreds, in places and spaces where our best dreams of a shared future can emerge. We’re being called forward into a new story. How can we make it a creative one, supporting as many others as we are able in our endeavors to stay healthy and well and safe? How do we embody emergence?

I sometimes simply call this making peace time”, especially when I’m embodying a practice while working with a client, teaching or facilitating a group. I’m finding myself immersed in love now for decades, blessed with a serious leadership coaching practice and capacity to heal in relationship with others. My next book will tell the tale of how my listening at deeper levels has always been the main inspiration for these practices.  For now, I invite you to enjoy these diverse and creative tales that emerged in the hour-long interviews and are now condensed into essential narratives that express how each Yoga Radical followed their own path from ME to WE. May it inspire you to do the same.

In Yoga Radicals, the questions that I’ve asked these amazing pioneers are questions that I live throughout my life, constantly speaking into the future and asking for guidance. When did you learn to trust your creativity and imagination enough to help you through a tough spot? When did you find a special friend who gave you solace in the middle of a storm, as you were on your path of life?

The stories in the book surprise me still and more importantly, now the memory of the deep embodied connections felt in each interview make my heart sing. I hope that readers find their amazing songs inspiring and a way to listen and play with the unending force of creativity and love, which we desperately need on the planet now. Embodying creativity and initiating positive emergence is what we all need now.

Allie Middletons latest book Yoga Radicals: A Curated Set of Inspirational Stories of Transformational Yoga by Pioneers in the Field, was published by Singing Dragon on August 19th featuring inspirational pioneers of yoga, from those with ancient lineage in traditional yoga to innovators in western yoga practice. Click here to purchase a copy.

Andrew McGonigle: 5 Reasons Why Lotus Might Not be for Your Hip

Andrew McGonigle has been studying anatomy for over twenty years, originally training to become a doctor and then moving away from Western medicine to become a yoga teacher, massage therapist and anatomy teacher. He combines all of his skills and experience to teach anatomy and physiology on Yoga Teacher Training courses internationally and runs his own online Anatomy and Physiology Applied to Yoga courses. His new book, Supporting Yoga Students with Common Injuries and Conditions, is out now. In this article, using our hip joints as an example, Andrew explains why yoga practice and what feels comfortable varies for each of us.

Have you ever wondered why certain yoga postures can feel so easeful in your body while others can feel like such a challenge?

Or why one person can sit cross-legged for hours having never practiced yoga and you still need to sit on four cushions after practicing yoga for years?

The short answer to this is that every body is entirely unique and will express a certain yoga pose in a completely unique way. There are also emotional, psychological and nervous system components that affect how much movement our joints make and the quality of that movement.

Let’s explore some of these factors using our hip joints as an example. Continue reading

Yoga Teaching Guides Introduced by Sian O’Neill

Yoga Teaching Guides

Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides is a new series of books, launching in March 2021. Edited by Sian O’Neill and written by renowned experts in the field, the books in the series cover essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from series editor Sian as she introduces some of the upcoming books and talks about her inspiration behind the series. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

As a yoga teacher, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas to help improve my classes for students and I have a feeling I am not alone. It can be challenging to come up with varied, interesting (and safe) classes week after week – so practical tips from highly experienced and inspiring teachers are always appreciated.

Sian O’Neill

Following the successful launch of the Yoga Teaching Handbook, it became clear that there is an interest among yoga teachers and trainees in practical tips to enrich their teaching. So, I was thrilled when Singing Dragon asked me to be editor for a new series aimed at yoga teachers, Yoga Teaching Guides, and we are delighted to be launching a series of volumes on topics ranging from supporting injured students; yoga and qigong; developing a home practice; the art of theming, and yoga and Ayurveda – with more to follow. Continue reading

Announcing our new Yoga Teaching Guides

We are pleased to introduce you to our brand new series of books: Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides. This series – written by experts in the field – covers essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon, as she introduces the series and shares a few hints on what is yet to come. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

Back in 2017, Singing Dragon published the Yoga Teaching Handbook, an edited collection which brought together experts sharing their experiences of the day-to-day practicalities of teaching yoga and managing yoga businesses. The handbook was one of the very first yoga books I commissioned, and it was truly wonderful to work with a group of people so passionate about yoga and so committed to sharing knowledge and advice with the wider yoga community.

Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon

Four years later we are launching our brand-new series, Yoga Teaching Guides, inspired by the 2017 handbook. Building on the key topics and themes included in the handbook, our series authors are able to share their expertise in greater depth so that yoga teachers everywhere can refine their skillset, be inspired to think creatively about teaching, and ultimately feel confident in sharing a meaningful yoga practice with students. Continue reading

Hypermobile People and Yoga – An Extract from Jess Glenny

Jess Glenny is a Yoga Register Teacher (Elder) and a C-IAYT yoga therapist. She has been practising yoga with hEDS since 1981, and for many years has specialised in working with hypermobile people. She is the author of The Yoga Teacher Mentor: A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes (published in 2020) and her new book, Hypermobility on the Yoga Mat: A Guide to Hypermobility-Aware Yoga Teaching and Practice is available for pre-order now, publishing in February 2021.

In this article, adapted from her new book, Jess discusses why hypermobile people might be drawn towards the practice of yoga.

Yoga teacher Amber Wilds writes:

During my teacher training I was told, you probably won’t see hypermobility in your yoga classes very often, but it became apparent over the duration of our training that many of my fellow students were hypermobile (to varying degrees). While some had been diagnosed, others hadn’t been aware of their hypermobility prior to our training. I therefore began to question whether, rather than being a rarity in a yoga class, hypermobility was actually far more common than initially thought.[i]

Indeed, as we have seen, hypermobile people are one population you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter in significant numbers in any yoga class you teach. Why is this? Why do people whose range of joint motion is so excessive as to be considered pathological flock to an activity with the potential to increase it further? There are a number of reasons. Continue reading

A Soothing Yoga Practice from Sian O’Neill

In these unprecedented and extraordinary times, we are all experiencing lots of different emotions. Yoga offers a set of tools to help us understand and soothe our minds when feeling overwhelmed, and to help both mind, body and soul.

Follow this soothing, relaxing practice with Sian O’Neill, for you to feel refreshed and reset. Take time out to nourish yourself.

 

Continue reading

Developing a home yoga practice with Alison Leighton

Alison Leighton wrote a chapter on home practice in the Yoga Student Handbook: Develop Your Knowledge of Yoga Principles and Practice. She has been teaching yoga since 2010 and is registered with both the British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance. She teaches classes and workshops in studios and also on a one-to-one basis with private clients.

During this Coronavirus crisis, remaining healthy and motivated have become more important than ever. Fortunately, technology is on our side and there are many excellent live stream options for home yoga practice with your regular teachers.

To complement this, I highly recommend having a home yoga practice where you practice on your own. You effectively take charge of when you practice, what you practice and the duration of your practice. This gives you total flexibility, especially if you are short on time or you want to focus on something specific as opposed to doing a full spectrum class practice.

Where do you start?

OK, so you want to practice at home but you don’t know where to start or how to find the motivation. Continue reading

Yoga Student Handbook: Yoga Journeys – Liz Lark

Believing in its transformational power, Sian O’Neill has been practising yoga for over 15 years. The first book she edited for Singing Dragon, Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017), was a great success – and with the publication of Yoga Student Handbook, Sian and the contributors share their tips and advice for yoga students and teacher trainees. In the second of three instalments about yoga journeys, Sian talks with Liz Lark, who has been teaching yoga for almost 25 years and has been a Board Member of Yogacampus since its inception in 2003.

We meet in Liz’s garden in Sussex. The garden is characterful and charming, with Turkish tiles above a pond, plentiful plants and artistic touches. Liz is as generous with her time as she is in her yoga classes, interspersing our conversation with many anecdotes and inspiring quotes (Liz’s memory for quotes from all sources is amazing).

How did you become interested in yoga?

A naturally sporty person, Liz Lark attended a yoga class as a teenager, where a teacher remarked (favourably) on how slowly she performed a simple movement of raising arms overhead – she was in the flow and enjoyed the coordination of movement and breath. Liz regularly returns to basics, although clearly an extremely proficient yoga practitioner, having taught yoga for over 20 years – ‘can I live in the present?’ She sees yoga ‘as a vehicle to explore creative expression, connect with the transcendent function with curiosity, without dogma, enjoying creative expression through ritual, singing, scent’. Continue reading

Thank you for attending our Virtual Yoga Summit!

The team at Singing Dragon would like to thank everyone who signed up, read, watched, listened or interacted with our first ever Virtual Yoga Summit. We believe that yoga really is for every body and we hope we managed to embrace that in this summit, putting a strong focus on accessibility, body positivity, empowerment and on yoga’s ‘whole person’ approach. Continue reading

Georgia Keal: Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety – Day Two

This guided meditation helps with reducing anxiety by releasing deep held tension that is created when we get anxious and our body tenses. It does this by shifting the energy from a anxious state to a relaxed one, using guided imagery of the chakras with a compassionate attention, using a focus of loving kindness towards the self. This meditation creates a deep sense of relaxation and reduces held tension to bring about a sense of inner peace and calm.


The Guided Meditation Handbook
Advice, Meditation Scripts and Hasta Mudra for Yoga Teachers
Georgia Keal

Help yoga students to access a deep state of relaxation with this guided meditation handbook. Offering yoga teachers scripts for guided meditations, students can learn how to cultivate positive emotions and let go of negative ones. Including practical information on how to set the scene for meditation in a yoga class, using music, lighting and props, the book also advises on how to introduce a meditation practice to yoga students. It explores the benefits of meditation for people from all walks of life, including sleep-deprived parents and those suffering from post-traumatic stress. Read more