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.

Svadhyaya Breath Journal: Download an extract from the companion workbook to Restoring Prana by Robin Rothenberg

Singing Dragon was proud to publish Restoring Prana: A Therapeutic Guide to Pranayama and Healing Through the Breath for Yoga Therapists, Yoga Teachers, and Healthcare Practitioners by Robin Rothenberg in December 2019, to critical acclaim. We are therefore delighted to announce that Svadhyaya Breath Journal: A Companion Workbook to Restoring Prana by Robin will be published in August 2020, and is now available to pre-order!

This companion workbook provides a pre-formulated breath journal, which follows the chapter chronology of the parent book, Restoring Prana, a training manual on transformative breathing presenting a new way of understanding and applying breath to a wide range of ailments. Each chapter in Restoring Prana ends with specific practices that the reader is asked to track in a breath journal – and this workbook provides a pre-formulated journal for this purpose, with the key concepts highlighted and with space for breath charts, logs and reflection.

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Lee Majewski & Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani on Yoga Therapy as a Whole-Person Approach to Health

Lee Majewski and Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani’s new book, Yoga Therapy as a Whole-person Approach to Health, is published in July 2020 – a groundbreaking book that explores yoga and yoga therapy as a multi-faceted approach to wellness.

Lee Majewski C-IAYT is a yoga therapist at Marsden Centre for Integrative Medicine, Vaughn, Canada and visiting senior yoga therapist at Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, India. She is a cancer survivor and since 2006 has worked with cancer and psychosomatic chronic disease patients, including running intensive yogic retreats for cancer patients in Europe, North America, India and Australia.

Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani is Director of the Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research (CYTER) and Professor of Yoga Therapy at Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University. He is also Chairman of the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, India and Yoganjali Natyalayam, the premier institute of Yoga and Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam in Pondicherry.

Together, they created this book for yoga therapists, health professionals and all those interested in this modality to provide a deeper understanding of yoga therapy, carefully clarifying yogic concepts and exploring how deep yogic work can be practically applied to a range of chronic conditions.

Watch an in-depth discussion with the authors, facilitated by Dr Lori Rubenstein Fazzio, clinical professor of yoga and health at Loyola Marymount University, and owner of Mosaic Physical Therapy in Los Angeles.

 

Breath Hygiene: Keeping the Mind and Body Healthy Through COVID-19

Robin Rothenberg, author of Restoring Prana and forthcoming Svadhyaya Breath Journal: A Companion Workbook to Restoring Prana (June 2020), served for six years on the IAYT Accreditation Committee in addition to running a busy yoga therapy practice. Her yoga therapist training program was one of the first to be accredited by IAYT in 2014 and she has been a yoga therapist for over 20 years. You can find out more about Robin at Essential Yoga TherapyBelow she shares tips for keeping the mind and body healthy through COVID-19.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen numerous social media posts counseling people to stay calm and stay clean. In my experience, employing good breath hygiene is the most effective way to both remain grounded and support immune and respiratory health. The breath is our greatest inner resource and with a little breath education, you too can develop the capacity to settle yourself, even when fear is gnawing at your gut!  Initially, breath hygiene may feel unfamiliar or awkward (much like learning to wipe down everything you touch with disinfectant) but the more you work with it, the easier it gets.

Here are five valuable tips for how you can use the breath as a powerful BFF to enhance emotional regulation, while simultaneously giving your immune system a boost.

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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

 

Neil Pearson: Informing the Language of Yoga Teachers with Pain Science

Language is powerful, as is pain. Both can be forceful motivators of behavioural change. Spoken language can be interpreted in many ways. Sometimes we even question whether words mean what we think they mean. Pain can be the same. We wonder whether pain really is intended to “get us to stop or change our behaviour”. We might also wonder “exactly what is it that I am supposed to change? Maybe the change I need to make is to stop responding this way to my pain!”

As a yoga teacher, leading groups in asana requires instructions that will keep your students safe. As such, cognitive contemplations such as the above are not well-suited as part of an asana practice dialogue. We use language that guides our students to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. We guide them to find the right challenge so they can explore preconceived notions, all the while staying present with, and not ignoring what’s happening now. We use language that provides options for change. “What would happen if you changed the way you are breathing right now?” “Or what you are thinking?” “Or if you let go of some of the aversion to the emotions or tension that you are feeling in your body right now?” In other words, we use language that encourages awareness and language that encourages self-regulation – often of body, breath, thoughts and emotions. Note that this language of awareness is not the same as asking a student to be aware “as the first step to change”. This is language that focuses on awareness as important in and of itself. Continue reading

Charlotta Martinus: Yoga for Emotional Intelligence among Teens – Head to our Facebook Page Now!

Charlotta is considered the world expert in yoga for teenagers. Her book, Teen Yoga for Yoga Therapists (Singing Dragon, 2018) was published in August 2018 to high acclaim among both yoga researchers and school teachers worldwide, selling 2,000 books in the first 6 months. Charlotta also speaks on the BBC about yoga and young people. She is the director of the global charity Teen Yoga Foundation, which exists to promote yoga among young people as a tool for wellbeing.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN A LIVE WEBINAR WITH CHARLOTTA


Teen Yoga For Yoga Therapists
A Guide to Development, Mental Health and Working with Common Teen Issues
Charlotta Martinus. Foreword by Sir Anthony Seldon

Including yogic and mindfulness exercises that have lasting positive impact well beyond the mat, this book shows how to use yogic techniques in the optimum way when working with teens. It includes advice on dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction and bullying, with examples of asana, pranayama, meditation and much more. Read more

Beth Spindler: Yoga Therapy Techniques for Trauma

Beth has over four decades’ experience in utilizing yoga as a healing modality, plus the highest certification in the field. Her book, Yoga Therapy for Fear: Treating Anxiety, Depression and Rage with the Vagus nerve and Other Techniques (Singing Dragon, 2018) is recognized in the yoga therapy community as a text for those studying in the field. She is a frequently featured writer and presenter for Yoga International and leads retreats worldwide.

In this video, Beth shares some tips and techniques to use with clients that are dealing with trauma.

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.

 


Yoga Therapy for Fear
Treating Anxiety, Depression and Rage with the Vagus Nerve and Other Techniques
Beth Spindler

Understand how to help clients relieve symptoms of fear and anxiety through yoga therapy. This book explains how to weave feelings of security into daily living, by helping the body to unlearn habit patterns from stored trauma. It features dynamic postures, calming breathing exercises and meditations alongside the latest fascia research. Read more

Dagmar Härle: Trauma-sensitive Yoga

 This extract was adapted for the Virtual Yoga Summit from Trauma-Sensitive Yoga by Dagmar Härle. 

Since primeval times, people have tried to cope with the adversities of life. There have always been upsetting and traumatizing events, but the methods for confronting the consequences of these shocks have varied greatly. They range from shamanic rituals such as soul retrieval to physical forms of expression such as singing and dancing to cognitive and narrative forms. Many of our contemporary therapeutic approaches in the West are based on cognitive considerations. However, traumatization is not just shown in a change of convictions. Due to the lasting stress response, it is also displayed in the somatic effects that affect posture, physical reactions, and bodily sensations—phenomena that were the focus of treatment at other times and by other cultures. Feelings of numbness and being separated from one’s own body often alternate with strong, overwhelming reactions to triggers, and in many cases make an efficient therapeutic approach more difficult. Instead of introducing a new method, I see body-oriented work as a basis and supplement to the tried and tested techniques of trauma treatment.

 

WHY I WORK WITH YOGA IN TRAUMA THERAPY

The idea of integrating yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and mindfulness into trauma therapy arose while working with my clients. When I completed my training in Somatic Experiencing and received my Master’s degree in Psychotraumatology, I was convinced that exposure therapy combined with a body-oriented approach is expedient in treating complex post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). I am still convinced of this, although it has become apparent to me that progress is not possible with every client when using this approach. For some people with complex trauma, the exposure of traumatic contents was simply not tolerable—relating to their own bodies was so disturbing to them that it triggered a response of panic and dissociation. Continue reading