Author: Sharon

Online Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

Get certified to teach Matrika Prenatal Yoga in this unique, self-guided online study program facilitated by Sharon Fennimore, MA.  Yoga teachers who are registered with Yoga Alliance can earn up to 25 CEU credits for completing this course. 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 [headline_border]Course Curriculum[/headline_border]   Informed by contemporary social theory and medical anthropology, Matrika Prenatal Yoga nourishes and empowers students physically, emotionally and spiritually.  This method, philosophy and approach has been refined over almost 20-years by Sharon Fennimore , MA and DONA Trained Birth Doula and enjoyed by thousands of women. In this online course, you will explore: Culture and Reproduction (Including Yoga for Fertility) Yoga During Pregnancy Common …

Barbarians and Blockheads

It’s always the same. Barbarians and blockheads, rival queens and kings, The drama rolls on and on. When people honor you, You are supposed to feel honored. When you don’t get respect, they expect You to sulk in indignation. One minute you are cruising on a throne in the sky, The next you are standing on some bleak patch of dirt. ~Yukti Verses #102, Radiance Sutras This verse, part of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra translated by Lorin Roche in his book, The Radiance Sutras, has helped me to put into perspective the characters and actions that grace American politics and the local and global violence, destruction, hatred and greed that unfolds before me on the news, in my social media feeds and in discussion boards where my neighbors complain about a 2% increase in some tax or another.  It is, quite frankly, why I don’t belong to any “mommy groups”.  Quite frankly, I don’t care how you potty trained your little genius and I certainly don’t want to waste time watching an argument between strangers …

Yoga for Labor and Birth

This is a post written over two-years ago, but if you are looking for my current  pregnancy and birth support services, classes and workshops CLICK HERE.  Whether you are having a scheduled cesarean birth, are planning a water-birth at home or something in between, yoga provides wonderful tools for working with the energies of labor and birth in an empowering way.  The techniques you will learn in this workshop are helpful for both the laboring mom and her entire support team.  These ways of breathing, sounding, moving, communicating, making decisions and for touching/interaction, are compatible with all childbirth methods.  This is an experiential workshop so wear comfortable clothes and get ready to make some noise, move around and have a lot of laughs while you prepare to welcome your newest family member with love and light!  No experience with yoga, meditation, or birth is required.  Tuition is for the birthing mother and up to one birth partner/support person.  Ideally, Mom comes with her primary labor and birth support person, but if they aren’t available, then come …

Introduction to Fertility Awareness

This is a workshop for women ages 17-100 where we will explore methods for being aware of cycles of fertility in body, mind, and spirit.  Here are just a few ways that a woman can benefit from learning fertility awareness techniques at any age: menstrual cycle and reproductive health learning signs of your most creative and intuitive days for the purpose of conceiving a baby, starting a new project or making changes in lifestyle or relationship learning the signs of your least fertile days for the purpose of family planning and engaging in quiet and nourishing activities Whether you are looking to better understand your menstrual cycles, conceive a pregnancy or reduce your chances of conception, learning about your fertility provides incredible insight and keys to overall reproductive health. In this workshop, you will learn the basics of the energy of a fertility cycle and the physical anatomy of that cycle. You will learn three different ways to chart your cycles to determine patterns and signs of when you are most fertile and least fertile. Finally, we …

Buddhist Philosophy and Yoga Anatomy Workshops

These workshops are no longer being held fall 2016. Please check back for future collaborations and check out Mark’s website for his teaching schedule. Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy Workshops I am honored to host our guest instructor, Mark Chandlee Taylor, the Director of BodyMindMovement to facilitate the following embodied anatomy workshops yoga students and teachers.  All workshops are held at Mookshi Wellness Center in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Sessions begin with an hour of practice and discussion of the required text with Sharon which will be followed by a short break and then three-hours of anatomy with Mark.  All workshops are from noon to 4:00 pm.  I recommend that students obtain a copy of “Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries” by Thich Nhat Hanh and read both his translations and commentaries in preparation for discussions.  Alternatively, I have provided links below where you can find PDF versions of the required texts. As space is limited, pre-registration is highly recommended.  Workshops are $45 when you register online.  If you are blocked from online registration, please email …

How to Throw A Dinner

Today, I received an email from Martha Stewart Living.  Yes, go ahead and chuckle.  I love Martha Stewart and her magazine “Martha Stewart Living”.  I actually find that her posted recipees are simple to make and sometimes she has very unique ideas for crafts or ways to make things more special with just a little more than the usual effort. Well, the title of this one made ME laugh: “How to Throw a Rustic French Dinner” While not the intention of the linked article, I immediately envisioned myself conservatively dressed sitting at a table of people I didn’t know how to talk to with a plate full of a French rustic style dinner in front of me.  I could see myself in the vision just picking up the plate and throwing it as hard as I could.  Not at anyone.  Just throwing it.  I certainly do not need Martha Stewart to instruct me on the right way to throw a plate of any kind of dinner.  If I had any doubts, I could always hand …

Buddhist Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy for Yoga Workshops

 Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy Workshops I am honored to host our guest instructor, Mark Chandlee Taylor, the Director of BodyMindMovement to facilitate the following embodied anatomy workshops for experienced yoga students and yoga teachers.  All workshops are held at Mookshi Wellness Center in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Sessions begin with an hour of practice and discussion of the required text with Sharon which will be followed by a short break and then three-hours of anatomy with Mark.  All workshops are on Sundays from noon to 4:00 pm.  I recommend that all trainees obtain a copy of “Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries” by Thich Nhat Hanh and read both his translations and commentaries in preparation for discussions.  Alternatively, I have provided links below where you can find PDF versions of the required texts. October 16, 2016 Text: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breath (Anapanasati Sutta) Anatomy Focus: Anatomy of Movement & Bone November 6, 2016 Text: The Foundations of Mindfulness_ Satipatthana Sutta Anatomy Focus: Knees, Hips and Pelvis December 10, 2016 Text: …

Second Location

One of the most significant changes that came with parenthood was the demise of my ability to travel to a “second location”.  I had attended college in a neighborhood that was not safe (understatement) and have always been an urban dweller and I regularly attended public safety workshops where I learned important skills like yell “fire” instead of “help” since more people will respond to a potential threat to their own safety than taking the risk to assist someone else in trouble.  I also learned to be prepared to poke someone’s eye out.  Which, honestly, may be good advice, but I’m not sure what it would take to be inspired to act on it.  But, the advice that seemed both strongest in message and reason was to do whatever it took not to be taken to a “second location”.  Apparently, even if someone has a gun to your head, statistically, you have a better chance of surviving the assault if you run or try to get away than if you get into a car to …

So Much Feels Arbitrary

It is the first line of a Marge Piercy poem that I think of often, on many days and for many years now since I first read it more than ten years ago when my son was first born. “So much feels arbitrary.” Poem “The Mystery of Survival” in “The Crooked Inheritance” (2006) page 131-133 And yet, I also have it’s equal and opposite thought a great deal of the time.  Generally, a sense that I have on occasion that even the smallest act of kindness means just about everything.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as a parent that each decision from the smallest “Which toothpaste to buy?” to the larger “Which school should I send my child to?” seems like it could radically shift the tragectory of my child’s life.  In these cases, Marge Piercy’s poem both soothes my sense that every little thing is the most important thing and also terrifies me. Part of what I love about my Pilgrimage Pittsburgh project is that I meet people while I’m walking around.  It’s much easier …

Perspectives on Unity and Karma

Last week, under a news story about some other tragedy, the news source suggested some other stories I might be interested in.  While I don’t usually take these recommendations, as part of my feeble attempt to control the negative media that I permit myself to absorb, this time, the top story caught my interest.  At the Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago, Chile, a young man (a child…really…too young to order a beer in the United States), jumped into the lion enclosure, took off all his clothes and began to taunt the lions by shouting biblical quotes.  They found a suicide note with the man’s clothing and the note was signed, “Jesus”.  In order to save the man, the zoo was forced to shoot and kill the two lions.  The male lion had been born into captivity. The female lion had been rescued from the circus.  And, in that moment, the lives of the man, the lions and the zoo staff and all the children and adults who witnessed the happening unfold came together in a most unexpected …

I Am The Door

Here are two common scenarios for me: Scenario One: A Friend or Client is Stuck This happens to me a lot and I guess it is an “occupational hazard” of sorts, but people come to tell me their stories when they feel stuck.  Many of my clients and students have tried everything, gone to every doctor, had all the tests, done all the treatments and they still don’t have the results they desired or the well-being that they were hoping for. I have friends that tell me about their stuck feelings in jobs, work relationships, personal relationships and just how they feel in their lives at this moment.  In many cases, though not all, a path to freedom seems clear to me, the observer.  When I first started this work, I was so delighted when I saw such a clear path because I assumed that if I could communicate it, then my clients could folllow my vision and get free fast.  But, what I immediately realized is that the clear path has always been present …

Extroverted-Introverts Guide to Large Social Events

This past weekend, I went to my 20th college reunion.  My college is my “happy place” and I also love the city that it is in, Philadelphia.  Also, so many of the people that I met in college are some of the most intelligent, creative and genuine people I’ve ever known.  I love to see them and it’s great to be reminded of the magic that is being unique.  Truth be told, I’m not much into socializing with large groups, crowded bars or lots of noise, but I signed up for all the reunion events anyway.  I feel confident that I can protect my energy and since I know the city very well, I also had a personal backup plan for fun things I would do if the reunion events weren’t feeling right to me. That’s one of the great blessings of yoga in my life that I’ve learned to make choices based on my unique sensitivities that do not limit my participation.  I’ve always been sensitive and sometimes that makes me choose to stay …

Creation Meditation

I was doing some internet research on energetic wounds and back pain and happened across a recommendation for this “Creation Meditation” (this is a very feminine meditation, but it is made available to men as well) and you can also find an audio guided experience here (NOTE: the actual meditation doesn’t start until around 7-minutes into the recording). Enjoy! Written by Sharon Fennimore, a yogini teaching yoga, meditation and providing integrative health coaching services to women and families with young children based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Sign up for my newsletter and get FREE membership in my online community “Make Room” where you will get all the support you need to clear emotional and physical clutter.

Say What You Mean

There is a short essay by Brian Doyle in the March 2016 issue of The Sun literary magazine titled, “The Way We Do Not Say What We Mean When We Say What We Say” (page 23) that suggests that, “Perhaps languages invent themselves and then have to hunt for speakers.”  When I read this, it made me think of a poem by Hafiz: Your Beautiful Parched, Holy Mouth A poet is someone Who can pour Light into a spoon, Then raise it To nourish Your beautiful parched, holy mouth. (Translated by Daniel Ladinsky and found on page 59 of “I Heard God Laughing” 2006) Many of you who have studied with me know of my fascination with the Matrika, the vibration of truth that finds its home in the central energetic channel of the subtle body.  It is the vibration of that which is most true and each of us has a unique symphony, that the human ear can never hear, yet is playing within us since the moment of our conception.  This truth, one …

Pounding On An Open Door

“How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging someone to answer?”  ~Rabia As soon as I read this quote, I knew it was a question I needed to deeply consider.  It was illuminating to read this because I immediately visualized myself pounding furiously on the open door of life hoping that someone would arrive to help me find my way through.  Yet, there is no need to pound on the door, to kick, scream, beg or demand because the door is already open.  You can walk through, just as you are, right now. According to the Bhagavad Gita, “There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to be.  Therefore, play the role you’re meant for right now.”  It’s so hard to accept this in the busy, fast paced life of self-improvement projects that we all live in right now.  My clients all present various anxieties and fears that they are, at the same time, doing too much …

Everything Changes

[I said to Suzuki Roshi,] “I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it.  Could you just please put it in a nutshell?  Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”…He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to. He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.  But Suzuki did answer.  He looked at me and said, “Everything changes.” ~David Chadwick For the past 24-hours, here in Pittsburgh we have been bathed in the light of the sun through clear blue skies. I feel the sun in the fluids of my body and, all of a sudden, my dreams seem possible.  When you live in a place that offers shades of gray (and not in the exciting way) for most days of the year, the light of the sun brings profound shifts in conciousness.  This shift is welcomed because it is warm, light and inspiring.  As much as this change in season from …

Pure Brightness

Today, April 7, 2016 is the Festival of Pure Brightness (Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day) in China.  It is a three-day festival that is as much about honoring ancestors as it is a way for people to have time to go outside and enjoy the new greenery of spring.  There are spring outings and kite flying.  When I was a teacher in China, all of my elementary school students made their own kites and went out into the schoolyard to fly them.  Since I was in the far north of central China, there was nothing in bloom quite yet, but the worst of winter was over and the majestic willow trees graced the main street.  It is customary to hang willow branches on your door during the Festival of Pure Brightness.  This has roots in the traditions of Buddhism because Guanyin is pictured sometimes with a vase of water and willow branches in it and this is meant to scare away demons and ghosts. As we move into seasons of light, it can be beneficial …

A Spring Meditation to Balance the Liver

Spring The water murmurs In the old stone well, And, a rippling mirror, Gives back the clear blue sky. The river roars, Swollen with the late rains of spring. On the cool, jade-green grass The golden sunshine Splashes. Sometimes, at early dawn, I climb Even as far as Lien Shan Temple. In the spring I plow the thirsty field, That it may drink new life. I eat a little, I work a little, Each day my hair grows thinner, And, it seems, I lean ever a bit more heavily On my old thornwood cane. ~Liu Tzu-Hui, Sung Dynasty, AD 960-1278 [This translation from Beinfield and Korngold, page 160] With the coming of spring, here is a gentle yoga-based exercise to balance the liver energy in the body. The energy of the liver (or, “Liver Meridian”) starts at the inside base of the big toe and runs up the inside of the leg, goes through the reproductive organs and flows under the front of the ribs into the liver where it circulates upwards through the lungs.  …

Lavender Soothes Lions and Lambs

Lavender Essential Oil Whether your March has come in like a lion or a lamb, I suggest some lavender to ease the transition to spring.  Lavender holds the energy of summer sun, but the blue color is cooling and creates a sense of equanimity.  Click on the image to the left for information on how to buy a bottle of essential oil with a 24% discount. Lavender for Eating Thanks to Elaine’s Lavender Page for the delicious lavender cookies recipe:  RECIPE FOR LAVENDER COOKIES. Ingredients 2/3 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour Directions Preheat oven to 350 deg. Grease two baking sheets. Cream the butter and the sugar together, then stir in the beaten egg. Mix in flowers and the flour. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are golden. Makes about 30 cookies. If you are looking for culinary quality dried lavender flowers, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.  I order online and have been really …

Insight Sessions

An insight session supports you in setting aside time in your life to make important decisions and create clarity around your priorities.  During insight sessions, we will address a singular concern, decision you are trying to make, problematic relationship, or goal and using relaxation, visualization, somatic feedback and energy work.  For clients who are interested in or open to divine insight through oracle card readings, Sharon will also use oracle cards to help clients clarify issues and priorities in their lives.  These cards are not used to “predict the future”, but in many cases, the images, words, and themes spark memories and invoke a heart-centered response to the challenge at hand.  Sharon also uses aromatherapy with pure essential oils for clients who are open to this type of healing work.  Obviously, aromatherapy is not possible for distance sessions, but Sharon will make a recommendation for clients about an essential oil or flower essence that might be helpful in their decision making. These are 45-minute sessions for $60 each.    These sessions can be held using SKYPE, FaceTime or at …