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.

Shawnee Thornton Hardy: Making Yoga Accessible – Head to our Facebook Page Now!

 

Shawnee is a C-IAYT-certified yoga therapist, M.Ed., 500 E-RYT and RCYT (Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher). She is the founder of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs and the founder/director of Yoga Therapy for Youth Teacher Training Program. Shawnee has worked with children and adults with autism and special needs for over 20 years, specializing in working with children and adults with significant cognitive and language delays, sensory processing deficits, as well as severe behavior challenges. She wrote and published a book, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs – Yoga to Help Children with Their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness (Singing Dragon, 2014), is the creator of the C.A.L.M.M Yoga Toolkit and is currently working on her new book Yoga Therapy for Children and Teens with Complex Needs, to be published by Singing Dragon in 2021. She has a yoga school through Yoga Alliance in order to train others in yoga approaches to support children and adults with complex needs and travels globally to share her teachings.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN SHAWNEE’S LIVE WEBINAR NOW


 Asanas for Autism and Special Needs
Yoga to Help Children with their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness
Shawnee Thornton Hardy

Teaching yoga to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs is easy using this visual how-to handbook. Breaking down yoga instruction pose by pose, body part by body part, breath by breath, this book uses easy-to-understand language and clear photographs to show parents, teachers, yoga instructors, and other professionals how to introduce the life-long benefits of yoga to a child with special needs. Read more

Matthew J. Taylor: Inclusive Yoga – It Ought to Be a Touchy Subject

These remarks are based on my 17 years as an expert witness in yoga injury cases and yoga safety advocate. This is not legal advice nor counsel because I’m not an attorney, but reflects my understanding from working with attorneys as to what they look for and utilize in either defending or prosecuting a matter. These remarks also reveal my deep biases as a “recovering manual physio” and how yoga differs, at least philosophically, from other practices.

 

The Hot Topic of Touch and Consent in Yoga

If there ever was a veneer of “purity” around yoga teachers and gurus in yoga’s reemergence in the 20th century, it’s now long gone in the first part of the 21st century… and “good riddance”!

So much so, that touch and consent are now very popular topics in the yoga world. I won’t be covering the sordid details here. You can easily find them online. Rather, I want to spotlight the importance of both students and yoga professionals being clear how important having high standards around touch and consent are to making yoga inclusive.

Let’s briefly look at how they influence yoga inclusivity, some points to consider in developing your own standards/boundaries, and a few take-away action steps to consider. May this fuel many deeper conversations… Continue reading

Wendy Teasdill: A Pregnancy-Safe Yoga Sequence

Wendy Teasdill has been practising yoga for over forty years and teaching since 1987.

Here, she walks viewers through a safe and simple routine that can be practised during pregnancy.

 

Please note that while our summit is open to absolutely everyone from all corners of the world, despite our best efforts we won’t be able to ensure safe, comfortable practice for every attendee nor take responsibility for your own practice. If you have any injuries or are dealing with any conditions that you would normally flag to your yoga teacher or therapist, please seek advice before taking part or following along with any of our classes or sequences.

Lizzie Lasater: Tips on Keeping up Your Yoga Practice During Pregnancy

We’re lucky to have had the chance to talk with Lizzie Lasater, yoga teacher trainer in both the digital and physical sense. Lizzie studied art history and architecture at Columbia University and now translates her training into digital courses, global Restorative yoga teacher training workshops, and her awesomely creative jewelry collection.

Lizzie wrote a chapter for Yoga Teaching Handbook, published by Singing Dragon in 2017, and she wrote the foreword for the brand new Yoga Student Handbook, which is in shops now.

In our podcast, we talked about all things pregnancy and yoga, connecting with the body and the baby during pregnancy, mental health issues in the first trimester, as well as social prescribing.

Top 10 Tips for New Yoga Teachers

 

In Yoga Teaching Handbook, a new release for November, you can read expert advice on teaching yoga and managing a successful yoga business. One of the contributors of the book, Alison Purchase, has put together ten top tips for new yoga teachers, which you can read below. 

1: Keep your class plan flexible.

Plan the general structure of a class rather than each pose. That way you can adapt the class based on the students’ needs and you won’t feel stressed if you forget what pose you had planned next.

2: Take an interest in your students.

If you arrive early and stay late, you have the opportunity to chat with your students and find out more about them. Students often have questions or are looking for advice to develop their practice. Continue reading