February Tarot for Yogis (originally posted to Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

There has always been something mystical about the month of February. The only month with 28 days and the one in which we dedicate a holiday to love, it is the last full month of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. This February, for our monthly Tarot for Yogis forecast, I asked for advice for how to keep going if the winter slog hits during this otherwise magical month.

This month’s deck is the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, also called the Rider deck. Rider is the original publisher of this deck, and esteemed occultist Arthur Edward Waite directed the illustrations. Interesting to note here is the backstory of unsung illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, a woman of color with Jamaican ancestry who was born into an aristocratic New York family. The deck originally appeared in 1910. Today it is the ubiquitous Tarot familiar to people with even only a burgeoning interest in the subject. You will find it called many combinations of Rider-Waite-Smith, and you can also find many more modern artistic decks inspired by this old faithful. (Like the Fenestra Tarot I used last month).

To me, this is actually a newer deck. While I was thrilled to learn Tarot from my Grammy, Aunties, and Mother over the years, my secret rebellion was to choose my own deck that none of them used. (Though I wanted nothing to do with the ever popular Rider-Waite deck until after adolescence, I now hold a great appreciation for the rich symbolism of this deck and the ones it has inspired.

This three card spread is the same as last month. The first card symbolizes what lies behind us, the middle card is our current place and time, and the third card represents advice for what lies ahead. Remember, a three card spread can be used for nearly any reading you’d like as long as you are clear about the representation of each place before you pull your cards. Meditate on the specific place as you draw each card. For example, as I pulled the Lovers card (which I pulled first), I thought “Where are we now?”

What’s behind you? The Six of Pentacles
Where are you now? The Lovers
What’s before you? The Star

Looking Back

The Six of Pentacles is in the past position and I’m not surprised the Tarot is being playful. This card was in the future position of our January reading—there’s obvious symbolism here beyond the meaning of the card. What once was the future is now the past, the Wheel of Life is always turning and taking action is important because today’s future is tomorrow’s past. Learn your lessons and move on, yogis!

If you remember, the Six of Pentacles is a complex card which represents generosity and charity (service, seva), and also the relationship between those who have and those who have not. The classical depiction of this card seen here makes it clear that there is a great difference between the man giving out the coins and the ones who ask for it. It’s hard not to see political and economic implications in this card. In this reading, however, the card seems to take on additional significance. Looking at the card from a spiritual sense and referencing our January reading, the man holding the coins is a judge. His scale represents discernment and balance itself. He can also represent Abundance personified, and sharing with the one who knows how to ask and receive.

What is your relationship with abundance? Do you pursue opportunities that will help you achieve your goals? What I see in this reading is a backbone, a past supporting you with a foundation of receptivity. Ask for what you need and what you want, bring your intentions to the mat. Find discipline, devote yourself to rituals that serve your greater purpose, and increase your receptivity like yoga, herbal tea, bubble baths, and meditation. This could be a good time to meditate with mantra that represents your desire or intention. These practices support you on your way forward.

The Here and Now

The Lovers take center stage this month (an appropriate nod to Valentine’s Day). Yet this card is not only about love and romance. The Lovers represent balance of opposites, commitment, relationships of all natures, co-operation and growing together. In today’s world the Lovers might well represent the partner your launching a start-up with as much as your romantic interest. Where are you committed right now? What are you building in your life, and with whom? These questions are important as we begin the month to let you know where your work needs to be done.

Balance means that you’re not only focused on what you want and need out of these partnerships. Are your partner’s needs met? Do they feel heard? Being receptive is a real theme right now. Important to consider, given the rich symbolism of this card: While both members of this couple are standing in front of a tree, the one behind the man is burning and barren while the one behind the woman bears fruit (and a serpent, another rich symbol which can point to abundance and transformation).

Just as in yoga, masculine energy is associated with the sun, with rational over emotion, and the element of fire. This card represents a time when being passive and, yes, receptive, is the more abundant path. Focus on how you practice Savasana, practice soaking in the experience. It’s not about fixing the pose and making it perfect, just absorbing the place and time you’re in. This could be a great month to take some Restorative yoga classes.

Facing Forward

Finally, a wonderful future outlook. The Star depicts a peaceful scene, an unencumbered figure who is not collecting water to conserve, but is actually playing in the water. There is no need to conserve, there’s trust in abundance. You’ll notice that both of the figures in the foreground of the Lovers as well as the figure in the Star are all naked. This represents innocence and also a freedom. The Star is someone who has been through difficulty, felt loss and struggle, and has found their peace.

This month, the path to this freedom and inner peace is truly through listening before acting. Practice Ujjayi breathing to balance your throat chakra and cultivate ease in communication. Be reflective in your practice, be in partnership with yourself as well as others and be less forceful with your own will this month. Your best opportunities may arise through others. This is the month to enjoy your community, your kula, your tribe. Receive the gifts they have to offer, and celebrate the cultivation of your own abundance.

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January Tarot for Yogis (originally posted to Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Yoga is an ancient practice for self-examination, as is meditation. With origins as a card game that became a tool for divination and self examination in the 15th century, the roots of the tarot are comparatively modern. Occultists from this time and since have incorporated all three practices in ritual practice. Today, there are hundreds of different decks relating to all manner of interests, and tarot is widely used as a tool for insight. In my personal practice, I use tarot readings to guide my reflection, my meditations, and my home yoga practice as well as my teaching to the public. I take these reflections to my mat to help bring even deeper insight and lead me on my spiritual path.

January is named for Janus the god of doorways. It’s a powerful time of year to set an intention and decide what you will nurture throughout the coming months. It’s a time to evaluate growth, and nourish yourself in a way that’s consistent with your goals as well as your needs. Our first tarot reading of the year offers advice for seekers in 2019.

I performed this reading with the beautiful Fenestra Tarot by Chatriya. (It’s based on the classic Rider-Waite deck that will be be more familiar to many practitioners.) My personal connection to this deck is through my grandmother who was my first tarot teacher. I purchased this deck shortly before she died while on my way to visit her and shared it with her; we agreed it was very romantic.

This particular spread is a simple three-card spread. The first card represents the past, the second is the present and the third is the future. You can actually assign any meanings to the three cards in a 3 card spread so long as you are clear on the meaning before you shuffle and pull the cards. This makes it a very useful spread to know and one I often use for shorter 30 minute readings. This Past-Present-Future reading was in answer to the question “What advice do you have for practitioners at the start of 2019?”

What’s behind you? The Magician.
What’s before you? Six of Pentacles.
Where are you now? Ten of Swords (Reversed)

Looking Back

The Magician is in the Past position, representing what’s behind us. He is a symbol of action, skill, wisdom and craft. Do you trust the skills you’ve built to be there for you? Can you remember the efforts of 2018 and feel confident in what you’ve crafted? In practice, this is akin to crossing the threshold to be able to balance on your head or forearms. The journey can be so long and sometimes you won’t see your progress, until suddenly that work amounts to an ease with a pose that was once impossible. Suddenly, you’ve developed a new nature. Even if the image is still unclear, you can still find trust for the efforts you’ve made when they have come from your authentic self.

The Here and Now

In the Present position is the Ten of Swords, and here it’s reversed.* The Ten of Swords is a very unpleasant card symbolizing ruin, pain, sacrifice. Reversed however, the message is quite different. Now is the time of strength and determination. It’s a moment where you have overcome adversity, or you are in the final processes of this difficulty as 2018 closes and the last moon cycle of the year winds down. Strength and determination are typical qualities of Capricorn, and we are in the season of the Ram right now. Call upon your own strength, and trust that the skills you’ve developed (the Magician behind you) are here to support you. Trust in your capabilities, release the story of pain and torment and recognize that all along you’ve been in training and now you are S T R O N G. Use your strength and your skills wisely. Be realistic and gentle with the goals you are setting for your body and your mind this year. Value progress over measuring it and trust that you are already enough. If that headstand still eludes you, trust that showing up and working as you are will get you there; pushing too hard is unwise and unskillful, it often harms more than helps.

Facing Forward

The future looks, complicated, so you will need your steadiness. The Six of Pentacles represents generosity and charity, and the inequality represented between one who has and those who have not. What is your relationship to help? Do you receive it well? Can you ask for it? Can you give help to others wisely? As a student, are you willing to be vulnerable and ask a teacher for guidance where you need it? The wise one knows when to be a beggar and when to be a benefactor. There comes a time when we all must ask for help. Those who don’t know how will suffer greatly in life, and may find that they plateau and lose interest in their goals. The squeaky wheel gets the grease—and there is nothing wrong with being a squeaky wheel sometimes. Give yourself permission to need people. Your kula (tribe) are those who authentically care for you. When you receive help from someone who loves you, it gives you an opportunity to deepen your appreciation and your relationship with that person. Vulnerability is a strength.

There is also a time for you to extend what you have and what you know to others and there is nuance in this. Do you give your money to beggars on the street or a well researched organization with outreach programs? Service (seva) is a step on the path of yoga that enriches your life and your perspective. Consider your commitments to service, where do you feel you’ll have the most impact? On the same note, how does it feel when someone “bestows” unwanted advice on you? A true practitioner is one who knows how to listen.

The best way to practice listening is listening to your own inner voice in meditation. Sit quietly, breathe, hear your thoughts without responding. Give this gift to others as an act of service and support. Unwanted advice may come from a place of good intention but often it feels to the recipient like an ego trip, or perhaps like they haven’t been heard. Knowing when and how to give is what allows you to be truly impactful. Be wise with your aid, do not give where it’s not needed and do not hold back where you are able to help. Complicated right?

This is your task to overcome, and to fall in love with along the way. As the New Year begins, wake yourself from the singular focus of mastering your skills. Master instead the delicate balance of humility and generosity. After all, intentions are a dance—not a one way street. Be easy on yourself as you explore new ways of being and inevitably fall into old patterns sometimes too. The only way to fail your resolution is to stop trying… just like yoga. Ask and offer help wisely and you will find success.

* Card reversals can be controversial, some people use them and some do not. I only recognize reversals if the information provided with the deck mentions them. I like to work with the intentions of the authors and artists who create a deck as well as my own intentions. It works for me.

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new moon january 2018

Tuesday offers another New Moon, a cycle beginning. This one is in Capricorn, which is the energy of a boss bitch who will get in your face if you try to resist her way. So, be steady, and be the boss this month. Set your goals and see your future, then go after it. Be gentle on yourself and the people you love, you might feel unsettled right now, just chill out and do something that makes you feel accomplished and happy while you settle down again.

Do yoga that makes you feel steady, standing poses and twists, it can be a good time for binds that will give you structure to work with. Practice Pranayama and Restorative Yoga to stay fully charged so you can accomplish great things during this achievement driven Capricorn time. Prioritize yourself and you will feel important and strong.

Keep Citrine or Pyrite close this month for motivation and cultivating your inner power. Use Hematite or Agate for extra strength and grounding if you need it. Perform an intention setting ritual on Tuesday, take a nice bath, be quiet and receptive even if only for 30 minutes, set a little time apart for yourself.

I get much of my astrological information from my incredible Aunt, Lauren Coleman, who is so wise and has a wonderful way of writing. Check out her post on this New Moon in Capricorn here for more on what this New Moon means.

Keep loving yourself and sending love to the world. We all need it.

xoxo

E

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Endings and Beginnings

I may be a couple of days late, but it still feels like New Year’s over here (plus I’ve got the snow blowing outside of my apartment, telling me to get this out to all of you). New Year’s is a beginning, it offers us a chance to reflect, and of course to think of what we’d like to achieve and manifest in the year to come. I am a pretty driven person, like a lot of people I know in New York City and its surrounding areas. Often, I’m focused on where I’m going, what I want, how to get there; when I spend my time focusing so much on what’s ahead it can feel like a lot of pressure. When we are always looking so far forward there’s no sense of satisfaction, our work is never done, like a hamster on a wheel.

This year’s New Year’s Day started us off with a Full Moon. A chance to see what’s behind us as well as what’s ahead. One of the things I’ve been practicing this last month is appreciation. Appreciating myself as much as I appreciate the incredible people in my life. Appreciating my efforts and the energy I put forth. It’s been changing my neurology in the best way. Helping me slow down and giving me some new perspective. I highly recommend doing this for yourself. Be proud of your hard work. It doesn’t matter if you see now that you could have done something better or differently, or even if the whole thing turned out to be a mess. Appreciate the fact that you tried and that you worked at something and learn from it all. This is how we level up and become our best selves. A lack of mistakes is also a lack of growth.

When I look back at the year behind me, I see a lot of incredible things. In 2017 I moved back to Brooklyn, a place that had felt like home for a long time and that I missed dearly. I moved back here to be closer to my teachers and to meet new ones, and I have. My community is amazing, both in New York City and Connecticut and I’m so grateful to have found a way to stay close to the people I really love in CT while feeding my own soul in NY. To everyone that has made this transition possible for me, I am so grateful, thank you.

The year to come looks incredible. I’m offering workshops in several new places, returning to one big and exciting event, booking some awesome vendor engagements, and starting relationships with some very special new studios as well as continuing onward at the amazing Stamford Yoga Center and Tangerine Hot Power Yoga, both of these spaces have treated me incredibly well this year. I feel very lucky, and very proud at everything I’ve worked so hard to build. I am really looking forward to seeing the seeds of the last year blossom in 2018.

I hope each of you feels the same. Full of pride for yourself, it really is time for a fresh start and to stop beating yourself up for the same things all the time. (By the way, that loop of beating yourself up is probably what’s got you repeating that pattern anyway!) Know that I am grateful for you, your presence here, your eyes and your hearts and every order and every time you’ve taken a class or a workshop or anything at all. Thank you all.

Happy New Year!

E

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rainy day poses

April’s showers seem to have been delayed into May. We’ve had a lot of puddles, thick wet air and worms on the sidewalks this month. This kind of weather shrinks up your muscles and connective tissues, making your tight places feel tighter. For me, and maybe for you, that means my hips and hamstrings start talking to me a little more than usual.

Try this yummy seated pose for a little rainy relief!

Marichyasana B Variation (Seated Hip Opener)

Marichyasana D
a juicy forward bend that releases hips, groins and low back named for a sage.

To come into this pose, sit on your sitting bones, as tall as possible. cross your right leg in front of you as if you were sitting cross legged in Sukhasana.

draw your left leg in so that your knee points straight up and your heel lines up with your left sitting bone.

your left foot is crossing in front of your right leg, traditionally this pose is done with the right leg in lotus but this position puts a lot more pressure on the knee and is only appropriate if you are warmed up and should not be tried without a teacher.

the left side of your seat might lift a little off the floor as if you were squatting, this is okay but stay aware of your lower back on this side and keep the back long and open by reaching your sit bone straight down.

now you are ready to fold over the right leg, on the inside of your left thigh. keep your spine long and reach your chest forward as if you were going to lay it down beyond your right shin.

if you’d like to wrap the arms around the left thigh and the right side of your low back and bind your hands behind your back this is an option if a bind is a regular part of your practice. another variation would be reaching your hands forward to release the upper back.

hold about 10 breaths, release slowly and do the other side!

enjoy, and happy monday!

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