Practice Notes: Rainbow Body

rainbow bodyEach week, I teach a mindful yoga class on Tuesday nights at Mookshi Wellness Center.  Recently, I have adapted a new preparation technique for teaching my classes and find the foundation theme for my class through daily prayer and meditation.  I have always been guided to teach from the wisdom of my practice as I was encouraged to do so by my compassionate and insightful teacher and mentor, Jill Satterfield.  But, for the past two-months I have been randomly choosing a sutra from Lorin Roche’s beautiful translation and commentary of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, The Radiance Sutras, and allowing the message of that particular sutra guide my choice of breathing, asana and visualization practices.

This past spring I took a truly amazing distance learning course with Janet Conner called “Soul Vows” (also the title of her newest book, which is phenomenal) and was able to do so through a generous full scholarship that she offered to me.  The truth is that I had a hard time with the course.  I still haven’t come up with my soul vows.  But, I had found her course through some research I was doing for my Radiant Heart course that I was in the process of creating and the soul vow discovery process required that I choose a spiritual book to accompany me on the work to nourish and keep it sacred.  The Radiance Sutras are “112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight” and while I couldn’t seem to identify my Soul Vows during the course, I kept thinking of the phrase “Choose Joy!” and these sutras and the commentary truly are about choosing joy regardless of circumstances.

This week, in preparation for class tomorrow night (if you are in Pittsburgh, please join us–it’s pretty much the most beautiful gathering of people I’ve ever been a part of, not competitive and you are warmly welcome), I randomly chose the 20th sutra and in the commentary, Roche suggests that we “sense all directions simultaneously” (Radiance Sutras, page 214):

Above me is endless space.
Below me is endless space.
Behind me is endless space.
To my left is space.
To my right is space.
Within me is endless space.

Roche suggests that “As the directions dissolve, so does your definition of yourself (214).”  When I read this I was drawn to Rose Taylor Goldfield’s instructive description of the Rainbow-like body in her book, “Training the Wisdom Body”.  She says, “The main point to remember about your body is that it is appearance-emptiness like a rainbow; it is purely the energy and play of luminosity-emptiness, like a body in a dream when you know you are dreaming.  Recall that your body is naturally light and luminous as you practice yoga movement.” (Taylor Goldfield, page 97)

The “Rainbow Body” in Dzogchen (an esoteric Tibetan Buddhism), refers to a level of realization.  This realization is when the separation between all living beings and phenomenon dissipates and all is one.  Taylor Goldfield instructs, “As you move your body, dissolve fixation on the duality of your own body here and the surrounding environment out there.  Melt into space.” (page 97)

In our practice this Tuesday night we will play with space and expand our inner and outer light for the benefit of all living beings.  Can’t wait!

REFERENCES

The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight
Author: Lorin Roche

Training the Wisdom Body: Buddhist Yogic Exercise
Author: Rose Taylor Goldfield

Path to the Rainbow Body: Introduction to Yuthok Nyingthig
Author: Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Soul Vows: Gathering the Presence of the Divine in You, Through You, and As You
Author: Janet Conner

 

 

Online Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

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Not only is this a very rewarding specialty, but considering the fact that over 80% of American yoga practitioners are women, it is imperative that all yoga instructors explore ways to support optimal women’s reproductive health for women who choose to attend their classes.  These skills will help inform all of your teaching and the program itself is rigorous and demands personal and professional transformation.r pregnancies and prepare for childbirth.

This intellectual approach to yoga as a science requires self-study and an investigation of the cultural, social and economic values that we hold around fertility, women’s health and specifically reproduction so that we can teach from our hearts.  Informed by contemporary social theory and medical anthropology, also allows Matrika Prenatal instructors to support students in a way that no other method provides support for.  If you are looking for a yoga training that is about memorizing asana sequences, then this is not the program for you.  These personal and professional training programs are transformative on both personal and professional levels and will require consistent commitment to study and practice.

This method, philosophy and approach has been refined over almost 15-years by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, MA, E-RYT, R-PYT and DONA Trained Birth Doula and enjoyed by thousands of women.

Matrika Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Program

Amazing online training with private mentoring sessions that is ideal for busy professionals trying to juggle career and family while also moving in the direction of your dreams.  Ideal for expats or English speakers all over the world who do not have access to a RPYT training school, but wish to work towards their certification while traveling or living abroad.  There are two tracks of study available:

  1. 30 CEU Credits for Yoga Teachers
  2. 100-Hour Prenatal Yoga Specialist Certification

What Makes Matrika Prenatal Yoga Special?

  • Emphasis on Tantric subtle body anatomy
  • Focus on how culture and reproductive politics impact fertility and pregnancy
  • Learn how to support optimum fertility with yoga
  • Use of Buddhist philosophy applied to teaching prenatal yoga
  • Learn how to teach visualization and meditation specific to pregnancy
  • Includes the use of yoga and meditation to prepare for labor and birth
  • Postpartum care and Mom and Baby Yoga

Who facilitates the course?

Sharon Fennimore, MA, E-RYT, R-PYT,  designed this course and has almost 20-years of experience teaching prenatal yoga and meditation.  Sharon is a DONA trained birth doula and holds two Masters Degrees in East Asian Studies and Cultural Anthropology.  She has worked with thousands of expectant women and their families over the past 15-years and has been offering prenatal yoga teacher training courses for over seven-years.

TRACK ONE: 30 CEU Credits for Yoga Teachers

Track One 30 CEU CreditsPerfect for yoga instructors who need a flexible continuing education program option and have a special interest in learning more about prenatal yoga and teaching yoga to women who are pregnant who may take public group classes during pregnancy.  While in the continuing education program, you can up-level to the certification option at any time by purchasing the additional private session package that provides the required contact hours for R-PYT certification.  Your tuition includes a holistic online course including 16-video lectures, audio guided practices, handouts and class planning tools, a copy of Sharon Fennimore’s eBook “Matrika Prenatal Yoga” with audio guide.  Your tuition does not include the required textbooks.

Enroll NOW for IMMEDIATE Course Access ($350) 

TRACK TWO: Prenatal Yoga Specialist Certification (R-PYT)

Track Two RPYTThe second track is a 100-hour program that leads to registration with Yoga Alliance as a certified prenatal yoga specialist with the R-PYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) credentials.  This track also includes four private distance sessions with Sharon Fennimore (either with SKYPE or by phone), unlimited e-mail communication during your course of study, review of all written work submitted and a graduation certificate that is required by Yoga Alliance as evidence of your completion of the requirements to be a prenatal yoga specialist.  Choosing this track is a significant commitment to becoming a specialist in working with pregnant women, their infants and their families and support system.  There is significant reading, writing and practicum requirements and certification requires your active participation in the online course discussion boards.

Enroll NOW for IMMEDIATE Course Access ($750)

Enroll NOW with a 4-month Payment Plan ($900 total/$225 per month of plan)

Comparison of Two-Tracks of Professional Study

Prenatal Training Track Chart

Tuition for both tracks includes: online course enrollment, a copy of Sharon Fennimore’s e-book “Matrika Prenatal” and the accompanying 45-minute audio guide, 16-video lectures, unlimited e-mail support from the facilitator during the length of the program, ongoing teleseminars and Q&A sessions and a BONUS 5 CEU credit postpartum yoga training.

Having Trouble Deciding Which Track is Right for You?

If you know that you wish to pursue continuing education in prenatal yoga and tantric subtle body anatomy with Sharon, but you aren’t sure if the 100-hour commitment is right for you, then the best thing to do is enroll in the online course (which is the 30-CEU credit option) and then see how it goes.  If you love it and you want to go deep into the study, then you can level-up to certification at any time during your course enrollment by purchasing the additional $400 private session package.

 Enroll in Prenatal Yoga Online CourseAs soon as you pay tuition for the online course, you will have immediate access to full course materials, list of required textbooks and graduation requirements for both tracks. If you are interested in the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist track, you can purchase your private session package ($400) from the online course and schedule your sessions.  Everything is available at your convenience online 24/7.  You will work at your own pace and there is no way to “miss” anything—all events are recorded.  There are NO REFUNDS for any reason and only participants who meet the requirements for their track will be given certificates.  Enrollment is not a guarantee of graduation.  Fees associated with maintaining your Yoga Alliance registrations are not included in tuition.

I Know I Want to Pursue R-PYT Certification, but I Need a Payment Plan

100 Hour Program Payment PlanAre you interested in a payment plan?  A 4-month payment plan ($225 per month) is available for yoga teachers enrolling in the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist track.  This payment plan includes both tuition for the online course AND a 4-private session package which covers all of the required private sessions for your program.  After you make your first payment, you will be invited by e-mail to the online course within 24-hours and you can enroll and schedule your private sessions.  There are NO REFUNDS for any reason and all payments in the plan must be made regardless of your actual participation.  Graduation and certification is not guaranteed and participants must meet all requirements in order to receive a final certificate to use when applying for RPYT status with Yoga Alliance.  Yoga Alliance registration fees are not included in tuition.

 The Online Course is organized by the following  topics:

Topic I: Orientation
Topic II: Culture and Reproduction
Topic III: Yoga During Pregnancy
Topic IV: Common Pregnancy Complaints
Topic V: Teaching Matrika Prenatal Yoga
Topic VI: Practicum and Professionalization
Topic VII: Postpartum and Baby Yoga
Topic VIII: Graduation and Evaluation
Topic IX: Course Resources


Lectures

The online course includes access to sixteen lectures that you can download and watch at your convenience.  If you are taking this course for Yoga Alliance registration and certification, you will need to complete the worksheet that is associated with each lecture and submit your work for review to Sharon.  Worksheets are not required for the 30 CEU credit track, but it is highly recommended that all students watch the lectures.

Orientation
Culture and Reproduction
Anatomy of Pregnancy
Introduction to “The Matrika”
Three Energetic Diaphragms and Pregnancy 11/17
Special Considerations
Modifications
Class Planning
Using Matrika Prenatal to Prepare for Birth and During Labor
Postpartum Care
Anatomy of Pregnancy and Birth Recovery
Mom & Baby Yoga 

Group Mentoring Q&A Calls

In addition to the lectures, discussion board moderation and our private sessions together, I will regularly schedule group Q&A calls as needed.  If it seems like there is a particular need for the group or a topic that needs more time and exploration, then I may create a topic for a particular call, but these are designed to be open for any questions on any part of the course material.  I will also regularly add calls that both current and previous trainees can attend to discuss important topics for Prenatal Yoga Teachers.

Graduation and Registration with Yoga Alliance as an RPYT

In order to graduate from the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist certification program, you must complete all required written work, observations, practice teaching  and submit your work for review to Sharon Fennimore, complete four private sessions with Sharon (distance by phone and/or SKYPE), and complete the online course module including active participation in online course discussions.  It is possible to complete the course within 6-months, but most trainees take an entire year to finish all of the requirements.  When you have completed all of the requirements, Sharon will email you a PDF of a signed graduation certificate that you can use to register with Yoga Alliance as an RPYT if you choose to register as a yoga instructor in this specialty.  A paper certificate is not provided, but you can print out your color certificate at your convenience from the PDF you receive if you choose to. Your costs for that registration are not included in your tuition.  Your graduation is not guaranteed and you will earn your certification through high quality work, enthusiastic participation and meeting all of the graduation requirements.

S01-YA-SCHOOL-RPYSYOGA MATRIKA is a Registered Prenatal Yoga School and graduates who meet ALL requirements are eligible to register with Yoga Alliance as a prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT).  Yoga Alliance requires that you graduate from a RPYS AND that you have a current registration with them as a minimum 200 RYT and that after you graduate from the RPYS that you teach a minimum of 30-prenatal yoga classes that you document with Yoga Alliance before they give you the RPYT credential.

Fine Print

  1. No refunds for tuition for online programs, mentoring packages or training retreats for ANY reason.  If you need an extension for personal reasons, please contact Sharon by e-mail at your earliest convenience.
  2. There is absolutely no guarantee of graduation or certification.  Your work and training portfolio will be evaluated and your ability to complete the program and obtain certification documents will be based on the merits of your participation and quality of the portfolio that you submit.
  3. Online programs are not for everyone.  With flexibility comes extraordinary personal responsibility.  You must also have the technical skills to register for the online program, upload documents and submit work as PDF files.  Consistent access to a computer and the internet are imperative.
  4. You should be able to set aside 15-20 hours for each month of your program for working online, reading and writing assignments.  It is important that you put these hours in your calendar and stick to a schedule.  Otherwise, it is unlikely that you will complete your program in time.  If something “comes up” then you must re-schedule your time.
  5. The cost of required textbooks is not included in any of the above fees.
  6. The cost of registration with Yoga Alliance is not included in any of the above fees.
  7. These programs provide an esoteric and intellectual approach to the science and practice of yoga.  This may challenge your current practice or ideas about yoga and meditation.  Personal mentoring sessions are designed to help you incorporate this information into your own practice and unique teaching voice.  Be prepared to be challenged and inspired!

Yoga for Getting Through a Rough Patch

rough patch cartoon
“So there he is at last.  Man on the moon.  The poor magnificent bungler!  He can’t even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and, vroom!  There he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky.” ~Russell (Wayne) Baker

 

When I clipped this cartoon from the New Yorker, I didn’t know what a rough patch really was.  I’d had some days that were more difficult than others.  I almost failed Macro Economics (really) and that felt pretty awful.  But now, I don’t just chuckle at this, I guffaw from some deep and injured and yet mightily resilient place from deep inside.  It’s the place where the magic of yoga really touches.

How do we make peace with the fact of the Four Noble Truths that tell us that our lot as humans in life is to suffer—victims of desire and want and dissatisfaction—and the idea that our true nature is joy and happiness?  Philosophically, it is an interesting problem.  On the ground, it can be a pretty miserable conundrum.  As I am emerging from what I would like to fondly refer to as a three-year “rough patch”, I see that the play of shadow and light has always been at work.  Just as Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina, “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”  What I know now is that the shadows can dominate for long periods of time, but the light lingers even in those darkest places.

Yoga is for humans.  Sometimes, in a time of shadows, yoga is the thread that keeps us connected to the small rays of light that can peek up through the narrow slats of wood in the kitchen floor, to some feeling in our toes, to memories or dreams or even just a remembering of a time when imagination was possible.  When our breath is caught in some invisible net at the base of our throat and the breathing diaphragm feels permanently fixed in space, then we can explore the corners of our nostrils and the sensation of breath on the lips, however light.  That’s yoga.  When our back is in knots and our head pounds, we can sip water and feel that wash over our tongue and enjoy the cool sensation.  That’s yoga.  Then, when the shadows dance to the corners and the light fills our subtle spaces again, and it will, then our yoga is still with us.

So, if it turns out that your life is a rough patch, find something precious and small that you can sense and breathe into that moment.  You never know what will tip the scales.

Practice for Shadow Dwelling

Are you in a rough patch?  Please try this practice.  It is unlikely to solve your problems, but it can shift your awareness in this moment so that you can experience a brief peace and clarity of mind.

#1: Fill a glass (and please do use glass if it is available) with fresh water

#2: Have a seat in a chair and place both of your feet on the ground.

#3: Take five breaths as slowly and deeply as possible.  If you feel tight in your chest or throat, like you can’t take a deep breath, then focus on taking as long as possible to exhale.

#4: Drink the glass of water and visualize the water washing your cells of stress and tension.  Feel connected to the oceans and lakes and rivers and streams of the world and all the living beings that rely on these waters.

A Precious Human Life

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Everyday, think as you wake up,
Today I am fortunate to have woken up.  I am alive,
I have a precious human life.  I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use all of my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment
For the benefit of all beings.

I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to be angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

~HH The XIVth Dalai Lama

No Time to Meditate

I know.  You don’t have time to meditate.  I don’t have time to meditate either.  No one has time to meditate and yet we all have all the time we are ever going to have.  We strive for peace, beauty and happiness, but our hours, days, weeks and then years seem to slip away and we are just as behind on our “to do” lists as we ever were.  While we are busy, it seems we are making things happen, being productive and that we are with purpose.  Resting and calming are considered luxuries that we simply can’t afford.

Our failure to rest makes us prone to panic, anxiety and depression.  Our unhappiness creates mental chaos and we find that even small decisions are hard to make with clarity.  Our sleep is elusive and of poor quality and we can’t remember our last dream.  Our health is “ok”, but we suffer headaches, digestive problems, chronic low back ache, exhaustion and most of the time we can function, but it always feels like just getting by.  Barely.  At times, our little aches and pains tip the scale  towards illness and unease that makes us miss work, school and the activities we enjoy.

Why are we so willing to invest time and energy in creating conditions of unhappiness?  We are terrified of what would happen if we tried to sit for five, ten or even fifteen minutes a day and check in with our bodies, ask our hearts their desire and to feel the breath moving in and out.  Maybe you tried to meditate once and became overwhelmed by the flood of thoughts, ideas and fantasies that came to mind in a powerful and uncontrollable flow?  Maybe you would like to meditate but you don’t know how and you have imagined that you need to sit somewhere quiet for an hour and “clear your mind” and you know that’s impossible for you?

Meditation is available to you and bringing acts of awareness and compassion into your daily life is a radical and transformative act.  You don’t need special clothing, to be able to sit on the floor or to be able to “empty” your mind.  All you need is what you have if you are reading this—your body and your breath.  You don’t need to sit for an hour (wouldn’t THAT be nice!).  You need to make a commitment to practice and there are infinite ways to practice.

I offer an online course called A Mindful Month that invites students to use their senses of taste, balance, touch, and smell to create a sensual state of mindfulness through the day.  The course gives written guidance for twelve 5-minute meditations, four 10-minute audio guides that you can download as MP3 recordings and a bonus 20-minute audio guided deep relaxation.  You can enroll here for INSTANT ACCESS.  The benefits of meditation have been proven, but you must practice to receive those benefits.  This is a perfect introduction to meditation or a lovely inspiration to re-inspire a dedicated meditation practice.

Written by Sharon Fennimore, a birth doula and yoga and meditation instructor based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Her Registered Yoga School (RYS™), Yoga Matrika, offers a variety of online yoga teacher training programs.  Private sessions are available on SKYPE wherever you are in the world or in-person in Pittsburgh.

Keep Something Beautiful

“In difficult times, keep something beautiful in your heart.” ~J. O’Donohue

I am currently creating an online course called “Radiant Heart“.  It is, at the core, a group exploration of a number of Classical Buddhist texts that provide the philosophical foundation for the practices of yoga and meditation that we have available to us now.  On a practice level, the course offers very accessible techniques for making meditation a part of daily life.  On an energetic level, facilitating this course is requiring me to re-think the heart as a seat of intelligence.  Asking what my heart wants has always seemed a little frivilous, but the more that I read these texts and the more that I consider what is at risk if I don’t open the lines of communication with my heart, I see that it is of great importance that I both ask and listen.

In one of the textbooks for the course, A Little Book of Love by Moh Hardin, we find this quote from “The Buddha” (no reference for source is provided):

“It is in this way that we must train ourselves: by liberation of the self through love.  We will develop love, we will practice it, we will make it both a way and a basis, take our stand upon it, store it up, and thoroughly set it going.”

Today, Earth Day, I am also thinking of a quote from Tagore, “Trees are the Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”  When the spring trees blossom and there is that lush bright hopeful green splashed across the still empty branches, it’s like the trees are reaching out to heaven with a display of their hearts.  The movement of water through their veins and the warming light of the sun mixing to support this magnificent and clear communication of life and beauty.  I think that if I learn to ask my heart it’s desire, wait for the answer and act on it that I will be like these trees.  The beauty will show in my actions, my appearance and in my life narrative.

If you are interested in reading these Buddhist texts and the breathing, movement and meditation techniques that are designed to enter into deep communication with the heart, there is still time to register for the course. Yoga teachers can earn 15 CEU credits for maintaining registration with Yoga Alliance.  DETAILS, SYLLABUS & REGISTRATION HERE