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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ritual for the new moon

Ritual has been a part of my life for a long time. As curious middle schoolers, my friends and I blessed wood with milk and honey. In high school I began meditation as ritual. The practice felt special and secret to me for a long time. The repetition of mantra, and focus, became a soothing source of familiarity.

I find my life now includes many rituals and practices that keep me feeling close to my own intentions, dreams, and commitments. I believe that anything we do can become a sacred ritual, when we do it with our full attention. I also experience the power of spending a few minutes (or perhaps more than a few) creating a special atmosphere, consciously setting intention, and sitting for contemplative meditation. When I plan a ritual, I draw from the many influences in my own education; paganism, astrology, crystal healing, aromatherapy, yoga, buddhism and intuitive reading. When I create a ritual for another, I seek to blend my own experience and education with theirs. Through conversation and collaboration we create something that feels authentic and meaningful to that person.

If you are new to the idea of performing rituals, a great way to start (in the comfort of your own home) is with the Lunar Cycles. In simple terms, the Full Moon is a time to release and let go. A good time to practice anything that feels clearing to you. The New Moon is a time for building, manifesting, creating. The perfect time to set an intention for the cycle to come.

Ritual for Intention Setting on a New Moon

Here I’m including a simple ritual you can do for the New Moon (the next is March 27, 2017) ::

  1. Gather items :: white candle, crystal quartz, inspiration cards, mala beads, blank paper and pen, sage, dish for burning paper, lighter or matches, lavender oil*
  2. Set the Tone :: Tidy the room that you plan to be in, you can also choose to be outside in a safe and quiet space, indoors is fine too! When possible, choose a place with a good view of the night sky.
  3. Build your Altar :: Arrange your objects in front of you in a pleasing way. The crystal quartz should be at the center of your arrangement, you don’t want to have to leave your ritual once you begin to grab anything, you also don’t want anything extra in your space while practicing.
  4. Begin :: Light your sage and use it to draw a circle around yourself and the area of your altar, you can walk three times around the perimeter or use your arm to circle it depending on the size of your space.
  5. Anoint :: Use the lavender oil on your pulse points (neck and wrists). Hold your hands in front of your face and take 5 deep breaths
  6. Manifest :: Write your intention for this lunar cycle on your piece of paper, it could be one word or many, write from your heart and you will know what to say.
  7. Initiate :: Light the white candle. Use the white candle to light your paper (with intention) on fire and burn it in your fire-safe dish.
  8. Meditate :: Sit comfortably with a soft gaze on the flame of the candle. Breathe deeply, stay connected to your breath while repeating your intention to yourself in your mind. You might contemplate all of the ways you can manifest this intention in all of the areas of your life. Visualize yourself living this way and what it feels like. Stay with your deep breath. Sit for at least 7 minutes, feel free to sit longer.
  9. Closure :: Use your sage stick to circle your space three times once again. Blow out the candle. Clean up your ritual with attention and kindness while drinking a glass of water.

*Essential Oils and Crystals can be substituted based on specific intentions. All of these steps and supplies are also optional. Anything that doesn’t feel authentic to you can be removed or replaced. Anything that feels meaningful to you can be added.

Have you performed this or another New Moon Ritual? Would you like help personalizing this ritual for yourself?

Comment below or reach out at elizabeth@love-by-e.com

Much love!

E

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52 Poses :: Garudasana, Eagle Pose

In 2015 I’ll be highlighting a new posture each week. Find sequences, benefits, and archives here.

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Did you know that a Garuda is not an Eagle? This mystical bird is large and powerful, sometimes depicted as part human. The Garuda is Vishnu’s vehicle. The Phoenix is thought to be an updated, more modern version of Garuda and both are held in reverence by mythology from many cultures.

Garudasana, now commonly called Eagle Pose, is also a powerful pose that forces you to turn deeply inward in order to radically open. There are variations in this pose between different traditions, my history is with the Iyengar lineage and my instructions for Eagle are in line with Iyengar yoga.

In Eagle Pose (Instructions for standing on your left leg):

  • Reach your arms wide in a “T” then take your right arm under your left. (Whichever arm is on the bottom will be the leg on top).
  • You can hold onto your shoulders, or take your fingertips towards the ceiling and hold your wrist, thumb or press your palms together.
  • Cross your right leg on top of your left. Keep your left (standing) leg bent.
  • Hug your right foot towards your left calf strongly. Hook your foot behind your left calf if you can, it’s totally fine not to (or even to place your right toes on the floor). Wherever your foot is, just hug in to help your thighs internally rotate.
  • Square your hips to the front of your mat (They usually skew in the direction of your standing leg)
  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
  • You can deepen the shoulder stretch by lifting your elbows away from the floor and drawing your forearms away from you, just don’t let your shoulders ride up!
  • Variation: For “Sleeping Eagle” (Sometimes “Crouching Eagle”), stick your bum way out and hook your elbows in front of your knees. Turn your head in towards your biceps and round your spine.

Yes, there’s a whole lot going on in this balancing posture. However, take it one step at a  time and you will soon find yourself an Eagle pro.

This pose is one of my favorite balancing postures. I love the way it stretches my Trapezius, a muscle that is chronically tight for so many people. Here are all of Eagle’s benefits:

  • Stretches and releases the shoulders and neck muscles
  • Strengthens and tones the legs
  • Improves balance and stability
  • Can reduce cellulite
  • Through the compression of many joints, your circulation is improved and toxins are flushed out of your joints and out of your system.
  • Opens your hips.
  • Stretches the IT bands gently
  • Can relieve pain in the SI joint.

I think Eagle is at it’s best when you follow it up with long deep breaths standing in Tadasana. This allows you to really benefit from the improved circulation through all of your major joints.

Do you love or hate Eagle Pose? I’d love to know why!

Until next time, be well and live well,

Elizabeth

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