Invite inquiry to lead you like a torch through the dark

“I ask myself daily: ‘What is worth my time, attention, prana, love?’  The insight that comes from this inquiry is like a torch leading me through the dark.” ~ Sean Johnson

Namasteworks Yoga Light

At this time of year with our focus shifting to consumerism, it’s a wonderful reminder to pause at every opportunity and reflect on these four core inquires; time, attention, prana (life force), and love.

In last night’s yoga practice, students were asked to reflect on these inquires as we moved through every breath and each posture. Drawing our awareness so closely to body, mind and spirit, creates an inner knowing in the present moment.  We can gain deep understanding about ourselves when we question. Take a moment to just notice your own breath in this present moment.  Is your time even worth noticing this life force?  Can you truly give attention to each inhale and exhale for even one full minute?  Witnessing how the inhale offers itself over to the exhale, like an exchange between two lovers, and how the exhale offers itself back over to the inhale.  Can you sense the innate qualities and characteristics of your own prana?  And, perhaps wrap your mind around the awareness that every breath you are taking and receiving is from the same air that has always been here.  Allow your mind to move to a place where you share your breath right now with those you love. Then shift the awareness to those that came before you, and before them, and before them. And now share with those that will follow, breathing your life force through eternity.  

Where your attention is placed, insights develop and we can light our way through darkness. I encourage you to take on this practice of these four inquires; time, attention, prana and love for today, this week or this month. You may discover your own eternal insights and perhaps, move away from the frenzy of the holidays to the spirit that is intended.

About Nancy Levenson:  Nancy’s mantra is helping others Discover Yoga as a Healing Art and their personal path to their wellness. She is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  She explores the tools, history, philosophy and science of yoga in working with clients to discover their own innate healing process. If she could, she would sprinkle JOY in everyone’s life and remind them of their own true nature as a path to wholeness.

She loves guiding yoga retreats all over the world and has recently added private one-on-one desert excursions and private retreats for clients to explore their own contracts, soul wisdom and spirit animal through a practice called, SOULSutras.

Surrender to earth’s intelligence and rise up rooted, like a tree – a meditation practice

In my teachings these past two weeks, we have been playing with the beautiful words of German poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, How Surely Gravity’s Law.  Taking aspects of his love poem to GOD, we have explored surrendering and heaviness leading to rising up rooted like trees and trusting our heaviness.  I share his poem here and offer you a brief opportunity to feel the depth of one of the stanzas of this beautiful connection to GOD/Spirit/Nature in the meditation practice that follows.

NamasteWorks Rilke

HOW SURELY GRAVITY’S LAW

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing-
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

-Rainer Maria Rilke – Rilke’s Book of Hours:  Love Poems to GOD

We set out to explore the rich text of this work, and I invite you to explore it for yourself now.  Listen or just read below:

“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.”

Invite your physical body to just drop into the earth – do it no matter where you are right now in this present moment.
Feel your connection to earth
Notice how the earth hugs you and has always been here to support you
Sense the wisdom of allowing yourself to surrender
Give over your impulse to control anything now and release to gravity
Look around in your imagination and try to see what surrendering looks like
How does the earth help support the image of surrendering you’ve created in the mind?
Can you see yourself lying on the earth’s surface?
Where are you on planet earth this very moment?  See it fully in your mind’s eye.
Release yourself to her intelligence
What does that even mean for you?
How can the earth be intelligent?
What is intelligence after all?

Focus on your breathing and allow it to be natural.
And, as you lie here see small roots begin to release from your back and drop deep into the earth
With each breath now let these roots penetrate deeper and deeper into the earth’s surface
On each exhale feel the roots releasing from your back body slowly making their way through the crust of the earth
Surrender your roots to earth’s intelligence
Take your time to experience the penetrating depth of your roots
What comes to mind when you think of your own roots?
How does it feel?
Can you sense grounding and stability?

And in your mind’s eye look above you and imagine you can see a canopy of leaves protecting you.
Allow the mind to focus on the leaves, the shapes, the colors, the textures and surrender your mind too.

Imagine that your breath serves to feed the roots, your body the trunk of a tree, your mind, the branches and leaves, metaphors for the thoughts that exist from within.

And now fully surrender to earth’s intelligence and just rest here for a few moments.   When you are ready, come back and  see if you don’t rise up more rooted like a Tree.

We can learn so much from Rilke’s poem and the earth’s intelligence.

About Nancy Levenson:  Nancy’s mantra is helping others Discover Yoga as a Healing Art and their personal path to their wellness. She is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  She explores the tools, history, philosophy and science of yoga in working with clients to discover their own innate healing process. If she could, she would sprinkle JOY in everyone’s life and remind them of their own true nature as a path to wholeness.

She loves guiding yoga retreats all over the world and has recently added private one-on-one desert excursions and private retreats for clients to explore their own contracts, soul wisdom and spirit animal through a practice called, SOULSutras.

Wandering in the Wilderness and Discovering My Spirit Animal

“The wanderer seeks to discover her unique and authentic place in life.” – Bill Plotkin

Throughout our lives we make sacred contracts with ourselves.  When we venture into the wilderness, we find that some of those may need to be renewed, altered, or may not have been a contract all along.  When we wander, it provides us the time to observe what is around and within us.  I recently spent time in the desert, an exploration of sorts, not sure what I was seeking, but nonetheless, discovered so much about self.

When we take the time to be still, silent and in nature we witness with a deeper clarity the world around and within us.  The desert was dark at night and the cabin I rented provided no window treatments, after all it was in the middle of nowhere.  Something about this eeriness challenged my comfort level.  What was I truly afraid of and why was it showing up now, here, in the dark?  The following morning was glorious, sunshine beamed through those same windows that hugged the darkness around me the night before.  I ventured off that morning to a beautiful rock for relaxation, contemplation and spiritual wisdom.  Upon leaving I encountered the footprints of a mountain lion.  Even there, in the light, the darkness enveloped me once again.   I questioned why something as simple as a footprint sent fear through my psyche?  Was I able to defend myself?  Was I even prepared?  What if I needed to defend another, would I even have the strength to battle anymore?

Mountain Lion

It was here that I was awakened to my spirit animal, the Mountain Lion, the Puma, and the Cougar.  Like a solitary hunter, I was reminded to avoid any sudden move or act of impulse and to truly observe my surroundings, my strengths and my weaknesses.  So much prana flew through me, much like a Kundalini rising.  I could sense my own personal power and set an intention to guard myself at all costs.  In my teachings, one of the first things we learn when faced with a fear, is to bring ourselves back to neutral, back to balance, back into the earth.  As the heat rose in my body, it was important to reground and cool myself down.  What was I really out here to battle anyway?

The eyes of the mountain lion are deep, filled with many past lives, past conquers, and defeats.  I felt my own eyes develop this intensity of awareness and insight.  My steps were soft, my moves deliberate, and my inner guidance system on high alert.  I meandered back to the cabin with a renewed strength and discovered that nothing can bring you into the present moment like wandering through the wilderness.  Many discoveries unfolded on this trip, including the union with my spirit animal.

 

About Nancy Levenson:  Nancy’s mantra is helping others Discover Yoga as a Healing Art and their personal path to their wellness. She is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  She explores the tools, history, philosophy and science of yoga in working with clients to discover their own innate healing process. If she could, she would sprinkle JOY in everyone’s life and remind them of their own true nature as a path to wholeness.

She loves guiding yoga retreats all over the world and has recently added private one-on-one desert excursions and private retreats for clients to explore their own contracts, soul wisdom and spirit animal through a practice called, SOULSutras.

The Joyful Warrior

Based on nature’s seasonal turning points, we are reminded that the beauty of each season brings with it a shift in our own life. As we enter the season of darkness, these turning points are celebrated as sacred times for renewal, rebirth and regeneration. NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness invites you to take part in embracing this seasonal change by joining us for “The Joyful Warrior”, a program specifically designed for those affected by seasonal affective disorder, depression or just seeking to find more JOY in life.

The Joyful Warrior

STARTING January 13 thru February 3, 2016

Four Wednesday Evenings from 6:00-8:00 pm

The Joyful Warrior NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

The intention for this woman’s program is to help you cultivate tools for inner compassion and enhance JOY at all levels of your being, physical, energetic, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Each two hour session will deepen your self-awareness of your physical body, enhance your flow of energy, infuse your vital life force, and help you get in touch your feelings and emotions through self-reflection, group discussion, journaling, interactive experiential practices and more. No prior yoga experience is required.

We encourage you to be the advocate of your own healing and discover that more JOY is your inherent right. This evidence-based program is guided by Nancy Levenson, a Professional Yoga Therapist and Erin Fugler Wester a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Yoga Instructor.

We value delivering a very high touch, intimate, and rich experience to this program in a private in-home sanctuary located in the heart of Highlands Ranch. You will delve deep into your inner world and discover you hold the power to infuse JOY into your daily life.

The Four Session Series is only $129.

 To Sign Up for the Program, send an email via the contact form on the website or call us directly at 303.725.1434. Space is limited.

The Instructors

Nancy Levenson
Nancy is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, ERYT-500, a 1,000 HR Professional Yoga Therapist and champion of yoga as a Healing Art. Nancy’s mission is helping others restore optimal health through mind, body and spirit practice using breath with movement. She is dedicated to a life-long study, practice and teaching of yoga and yoga therapy. She guides private yoga therapy sessions, workshops, group classes and serves as a 200 HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Affiliate School Program Director in Colorado. She is also certified in Ayuryoga, Restorative Yoga and serves as a mentor to students in the 1,000 program.

Erin Fugler Wester
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with more than 10 years experience, she has worked in community mental health, private practice as well as medical settings. Erin holds a Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University and earned her 200 hour level yoga instructor certification from NamasteWorks. She is passionate about guiding children and families to a place of health, balance and wellness. She uses a systems perspective and integrates mind, body and spirit through asana, mediation and storytelling.

Easing PTSD with Yoga-based Trauma Therapy – A Personal Journey

A commentary by Kate Roberts – a recent graduate of the 200 HR Integrative Yoga Therapy training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.

I came to Yoga by way of a car crash that nearly killed me, ending life as I knew it and the life that I had planned. I was 20 and had just discovered who I wanted to be and where I wanted my life to go when I earned by EMT-B certification with the intention of enrolling in nursing school when I returned to college. All that changed on July 16, 2000, when I visited my sister’s family on their ranch in Paradise Valley, MT, to meet their newest edition, Tyler, while on my days off from Lake Hospital in Yellowstone National Park. After driving to Emigrant for pizza and a movie my sister’s car was run off the 75 mph highway by an oncoming motorist in too big of a hurry and passing a motor home on a double-yellow line. My four month old nephew and I were both flown to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, MT, where he was pronounced brain-dead and I underwent brain- and various other- surgeries to save my life. I was placed in a medically-induced coma for one of the two months I was in the hospital, opening my eyes for the first time on my Dad’s birthday, August 8th. Rehabilitation began while I was still an In-patient, doing such things as re-learning how to walk and how to hold an eating utensil. After my discharge, I continued rehabilitation with four more grueling months of physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. I was then spit-out of the medical system a fully-formed and healed adult… except that I wasn’t.

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “an emotional response to” a negative event in one’s life. According to Judith Herman (1992) in Trauma and Recovery, traumatized individuals can range anywhere from a raped college student to a military combat soldier, from a car crash survivor to a grown man who was sexually abused as a child, from a prisoner-of-war to a housewife who is a prisoner in her own home. Survivors of trauma often suffer from a plethora of debilitating side-effects and symptoms which negatively impact their “quality of life” and are collectively known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (Emerson et al., 2009; Sparrowe, 2011).

Findings from studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others have shown Yoga-based trauma therapy to ease the “fight-or-flight” response (e.g. increased heart and respiration rates) triggered by the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which is a problematic and intrusive symptom among those suffering from PTSD (Emerson et al., 2009; Sparrowe, 2011). Trauma-sensitive Yoga was found to positively affect how patients were able to self-regulate (“calm down”) and reduce distressing physical and emotional symptoms when used in conjunction with traditional therapy methods in the treatment of trauma-induced PTSD (Sparrowe, 2011).

About three years after suffering my Traumatic Brain Injury, and while attending community classes in preparation for returning to college, I found Yoga. At my eldest sister’s prompting, my Mom suggested I attend a Yoga class—even researching where and when—until I finally acquiesced. It was a community class that consisted of women my Mom’s age. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the building and room used for the class, as well as the Yoga instructor, were all highly suitable for a Trauma-sensitive Yoga class (Emerson et al., 2009). The location of the building was one of safety for me, as it sat next the St. Vincent campus; the environment within the building was one of reverence, hushed but welcoming; the Yoga room contained no windows and no mirrors, had adequate but low lighting, and there was minimal outside noise; the instructor was friendly, welcoming, and very knowledgeable—everything I needed at this time in my life when nothing felt normal, including me.

Because survivors of trauma often dissociate from their bodies, the objective of Trauma-sensitive Yoga is to reacquaint a survivor with sensations in their body, which is similar to what I was doing at this time in my recovery: I was not only re-learning how to inhabit and maneuver my physical body, but I was also re-learning how to mentally re-connect with sensations in my body (Sparrowe, 2011). This was a loving and gentle Yoga class, where modifications for each body type were taught and encouraged.

Yoga taught me how to re-inhabit my body fully, how to interpret and regulate how I react to sensations, and how to embrace the new “me”.

Sparrowe, L. (2011). Transcending Trauma. Yoga International magazine. Retrieved from this source.  http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/yoga_transcending_trauma.pdf

Emerson et al. (2009). Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: Principles, Practice, and Research. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 19. Retrieved from this source.   http://givebackyoga.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Trauma-IJYT-Article_.pdf

Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. Retrieved from this source.   https://www.uic.edu/classes/psych/psych270/PTSD.htm

American Psychological Association. (n.d.) Retrieved from this source.   http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/

Bio PictKate Roberts is a Certified Yoga Instructor as well as 200-RYT certified. She began practicing Yoga after being severely injured in a 2000 car crash, when she found that it helped her find ‘balance’ in her life as she recovered from her injuries and completed college. Kate earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human and Health Performance—Health Promotion Option and a Minor in Art at Montana State University Billings in 2010.  Kate recently completed her 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness adding therapeutic yoga to her teaching skills.  She enjoys gardening, reading, arts-crafts, and walking her dog Maggie.

 

 

 

Rediscovering Your Beautiful Self: Using yoga therapy to free yourself from your harshest critic- yourself

“As we think and act so our world becomes.” The Dhammapadda

I remember going on my first diet when I was thirteen years old. And since that tender, early age I had been struggling with what I believed was a weight problem all my life. It wasn’t until I started taking yoga classes, becoming a yoga teacher, and finally going through yoga therapy training that I fully understood I didn’t have a weight problem, I had a self-acceptance problem. Through most of my young adulthood I believed I was not thin enough, pretty enough, knowledgeable enough etc. etc. Yoga helped change how I viewed myself. Even better, yoga helped me break from my negative thinking patterns that went into the obsessive realm particularly when I was denying myself of food. Yoga helped heal me in three ways:

1. I learned to live more in the present moment. “I think, therefore I am,” is a famous philosophical phrase once spoken by Rene Descartes, and before yoga came into my life this is how I lived. Every thought that occurred in my mind was my reality. If I worried that my house was not clean enough for neighbors to visit, that was my reality. Never mind that the neighbors were coming over to see me and did not notice the dust in the corners. When I started taking yoga, the instructor said to “just breath, feel and listen to your body”. For the first time in a long time my mind stopped racing and I noticed my breath and began relaxing. I began to connect with a self that was non-critical, non-judging and beautiful just the way she was at that moment. She was inside me all my life but somehow I lost that connection within me. I now try to live by the philosophy, “I breathe, therefore I am”…. a much gentler way to live one’s life.

2. I became more compassionate with myself. In the past I was my harshest critic. I beat myself up if I could not fit in a pair of size 4 jeans. I became depressed every time I weighed myself…every single time. I began to use my breathing techniques I learned in yoga class and therapy training and applied it in my daily living. Rather than being upset when a driver angrily shook his head at me, I now take a deep breath and continue driving, moving on literally and mentally. I haven’t stepped on the dreaded weight scale for almost five years now. How I feel is much more important than a number on a cold metallic platform. When I occasionally do eat that greasy hamburger and French fry plate, instead of thinking negatively, full of regret, I shake it off, take a deep breath and move on. I find I can again start eating healthy the next day because I understand it’s not an all or nothing battle.

3. I have found my own beautiful self. I now understand that I am more than my worries about the future, much more than regrets about the past. I am my breath, my body, my soul and yes, even my busy little mind. I listen to how I feel when I am eating, when I am standing, conversing and engaging with others. I know I am worthy even if others don’t think I am. I try to find beauty in myself and I try to find beauty in others even if they don’t see it. Yoga helped me to see past the external self, to let go of judgment and competition with others. I now understand that we are all the same. We are all struggling in this world together. We are all beautiful and worthy beings.

The best thing about a yoga practice is that you can experience the benefits in the first class or therapy session that you take. You can experience the benefits with your first deep breath you take. However, this is an ongoing process, and the benefits grow exponentially as you stick with it. As time goes by you might also notice you feel calmer in your daily interactions with others. You might find yourself less reactive in life situations. You can recognize when you feel off-balance and try to maintain a positive attitude. Your happiness comes more from nurturing body, mind and spirit rather than external things and depending on others. The benefits of yoga have a snowball effect. So stick with it and understand that yoga is not about doing yoga but rather, it’s about being yoga every moment, every breath of the day.

Andrea Mathwich - NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

Guest Teacher Bio: Andrea Mathwich M.A. is a Registered Yoga Instructor who works in Boulder County, Colorado. She recently received her certification from Integrative Yoga Therapy at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness in yoga with a therapeutic focus. She teaches senior yoga and vinyasa yoga in various settings. Her goals are to help people of all ages to build self-esteem and self-compassion in this increasingly disconnected world.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art, offering a private sanctuary in Highlands Ranch for private on-on-one yoga and therapy, 200HR Integrative Yoga Teacher Trainings, private classes, workshops and retreats.

Final Day of FREE YOGA IN THE PARK 2015 – Highlands Ranch, Colorado

LET LIFE TOUCH YOU!

Yoga is an opportunity to Let Life Touch You! To feel life, be affected by it, moved and shaped by life at every turn. We start by letting the breath touch us, then community, then body, then magically our spirit is also touched.

Let Life Touch You on the mat for this final practice of the summer. We invite everyone in the community, all ages, and all levels of experience to show up, burn brightly, live passionately and connect to touching your true source.

Our final practice is led by Jena Sawyer with Nancy Levenson, Jenny Clark, Barbara Bloodgood and a few more, as we bid goodbye to summer.

This program has been offered FREE of charge to the community for seven years now by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC.  Join us from 8:15-9:15 at Civic Green Park, located at 9370 Ridgeline Road, Highlands Ranch, CO, located by the main library.NamasteWorks Free Yoga in the Park 2014 Opening Day 112

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art at our private sanctuary located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. If you would like Discover the secret to your wellness, call Nancy Levenson, Professional Yoga Therapist,  for a private consultation.

In What Ways Am I Well?

Health or Sickness

What is it you focus on when asked the question “in what ways do you know you are well?” This question was given to me by one of my teachers, Camille Maurine. It amplifies how our mind works – our tendency to focus on the many ways we are not well. Can you sit with yourself in meditation and truly find the many ways that you are well.

And even beyond that – can you investigate what causes your health with the same wholeheartedness that you do when seeking how you might be ill? Maybe instead of going to the Doctor and filling out forms of your prior illnesses, you could shift the paradigm and fill out pages and pages of what makes you well.

Yoga Therapy RX

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art at our private sanctuary located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. If you would like Discover the secret to your wellness, call Nancy Levenson, Professional Yoga Therapist,  for a private consultation.

NamasteWorks – FREE YOGA IN THE PARK 2015 – Highlands Ranch, CO

Awaken to Joy & Bliss

Join us for the 7th Annual Free Yoga in the Park – No experience required– best part, it’s all FREE!  No donations, no requests, no solicitations.  We believe yoga is a sacred practice to feeding our soul.  It’s a time to honor an inward journey without the chaos and interruptions of daily living.

Come nourish yourself Saturday mornings on the mat in the great outdoors. This practice welcomes both beginners and seasoned yogis alike.  Behold the joy that surrounds you as you step outdoors in nature, breath life into yourself, and connect to your own innate bliss; all while in the presence of shared community. This program is offered with the ultimate intention of bringing health and wellness to local residents, creating a happier and more joyful you and community.  Last year, over 3,000 participants were inspired to roll out their mat and join us in the weekly community event.NamasteWorks Free Yoga

DATES AND LOCATION – PRINT THE SCHEDULE

Beginning Saturday, May 23 through August 8,  residents age 18 and over can participate in an hour long practice each Saturday morning from 8:15-9:15, with only a few minor date exceptions.  NO sessions will be held June 13 or July 18.  Sessions are held at Civic Green Park, located at 9730 Ridgeline Road, Highlands Ranch, CO, adjacent to the Highlands Ranch Public Library.

2015 INSTRUCTORS

Yoga sessions are guided by NamasteWorks volunteer certified instructors; Nancy Levenson, Jenny Clark, Jena Sawyer, Renee Carrillo, Barbara Bloodgood, and Laurie Knight.

So, mark your calendar and JOIN US ON OPENING DAY – Saturday, May 23 and awaken to Joy & Bliss while enjoying the great outdoors. 

200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training – 2015 Class Forming Now in Colorado

FIVE SPACES SECURED, FIVE SPACES LEFT.

Our 2015 Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness  has it’s first five spots filled. We welcome the diverse group already forming including a clinical therapist, a registered nurse, a yogini, a respiratory therapist, and a physical therapist. Come claim one of the remaining spaces. Program begins February 2015.

The 200hr Yoga Teacher Training with a Therapeutic Focus is for those who want to offer Yoga as a healing art or deepen their own personal practice.

As approaches to health continue to evolve, Yoga will become an increasingly important part of Wellness programs of the future because of its ability to promote health and healing at physical, emotional, and spiritual levels simultaneously. This unique Therapeutic Teacher Training program offers you the opportunity to become immersed in the tools and techniques to support your current business and  this growing industry.

For full details on our program and to obtain our syllabus visit  2015 Teacher Training.

NamasteWorks Yoga Integrative 200HR Teacher Training