All posts tagged: Sharon Fennimore

Embodied Childbirth Preparation

I am SO EXCITED and truly honored to have the opportunity to facilitate a Dynamic Childbirth workshop in Vermont at ZenBarn on June 24th.  And, how amazing was it for Shaina Levee of Birth Love Family to write such a wonderful blog post to introduce me to the community there?  Amazing! While everyone learns in different ways, labor and childbirth is most definitely a physical experience.  Therefore, I designed Dynamic Childbirth so that you could prepare your body-mind for labor and birth.  You can read about birth all you like, listen to lectures, watch videos, and look at pictures of a cervix dilating.  But, when it’s time to give birth, labor takes us deep inside and we act, breathe, visualize, and communicate from our bodies and not from our logic brain.  I’m not suggesting that a woman in labor isn’t logical.  Quite the opposite!  I’m saying that, in my experience, it is important to actually practice movements, breathing, sounding, and communication tools with your body before you need to draw upon this knowledge. Plus, the …

Beautiful and Sensual

I have been using essential oils in my practice and for self-care for many years.  It all started when I participated in some classes and workshops taught by Amy Galper and Schuyler Grant around yoga, acupressure, and aromatherapy about sixteen or so years ago. A couple weeks ago, I received an offer from Utama Spice.  They very generously sent me a complimentary nebulizing essential oil diffuser with a bottle of their own Cajeput essential oil in exchange for my honest review of their products on my blog.  How could I say no?  Also, I very much appreciated the genuinely personal communication I received from Utama.  I made it clear that I would only write a completely honest review and they were in agreement with the conditions I presented to them.  As soon as I opened the package from Utama, I knew I was in for a treat.  The Danau Satu diffuser came in the most tasteful packaging with a floral decoration.  As soon as I pulled it out of the box I was amazed at …

Unicorn in the Sky and Other Magic

Hello there dear!  It’s Bibliotherapy Saturday  and I decided to start today’s exploration with a magazine I don’t usually read.  Ever.  I decided to start with February 2018 issue of Astronomy magazine.  Why you might ask?  Good question!  It’s because there was a hook on the cover that suggested that I could “TOUR Monoceros the Unicorn” on page 60.  I love unicorns.  How could I resist?  Monoceros the Unicorn is the 35th largest constellation out of the 88 constellations and the figure lies within the “Winter Triangle: the stars Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Procyon.”  The short article then has some pictures of and features of the area around the constellation and notes what is special that you can see either with the naked eye under a dark sky or what kind of telescopic enlargement is required.  This kind of night sky exploration is what I had been hoping for when I signed up for a basic astronomy class in college.  Instead, I got a whole lot of physics and math that I didn’t have the background …

Hiding in Public

It is only recently that I have learned that I am an introvert.  More precisely, I am an extroverted introvert.  I don’t not like being around other people and do not have trouble in crowds or social situations.  I can introduce myself to strangers and make friends with relative ease.  But, being with other people doesn’t nourish me the way that being alone is soothing and refreshing.  I don’t just LIKE being by myself……I NEED to be by myself, probably a lot more than many other people do.  I have no fear of loneliness as the idea of being all by myself is rather enticing.  But, as an extroverted introvert (or is it introverted extrovert?), my favorite place to be all by myself is the library.  It’s how I go and be all alone with others.  Perhaps it is because I grew up in an urban environment, but I like to have people “around”, but not engaging with them.  Combine being alone in public with unlimited access to books?  Heaven.  Perfection!  And so,  every Tuesday …

Tibetan Yoga Classes

Tibetan Yoga on Wednesday Mornings 10:00 am In my personal practice of yoga, in the past five-years, I have started to bring more and more of my meditation into my yoga and more of my yoga into my meditation.  Essentially, it is now one practice.  This is possible because the type of somatic meditation that I practice (somatic meaning “of the body”) is rooted in Vajrayana Buddhism.  This is one of the major schools of Buddhist practice and thought that is based on the idea that we all already possess Buddha-nature in ourselves and that enlightenment is just the recognition of our true nature.  The practice has more to do with learning techniques that access much more than the physical body and bring us into a state of open awareness to things as they are.  It is in this “space” where all potential and opportunity exists.  We don’t need to make anything, improve on anything, get more flexible or strong or change anything.  Rather, we use our tools of somatic awareness to enter into an …

Professional Development for Yoga Teachers

In April 2013, I closed my brick and mortar yoga studio, Yoga Matrika, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and pioneered yoga and meditation studies through distance learning.  In the process, I tried a number of different platforms for holding classes and teleseminars and worked with hundreds of very patient yoga teachers who agreed to work with me to provide constructive feedback while also getting high quality continuing education. I am really delighted that Yoga Alliance has recognized the potential of distance learning for professional continuing education for Yoga Teachers. They permit up to 25 of your 30 required CEU credits to maintain registration to be earned with non-contact hours.  I am honored to be a YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) and have a number of online courses just for yoga instructors.  These courses allow teachers all over the world to learn more about Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan yoga practices, meditation skills, subtle body anatomy, women’s health and yoga, and prenatal yoga and meditation. I have put over 25-years of practice, teaching, and research into all of …

Attitude of Gratitude? Not so much.

While we all know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a part of living our most joyful life, how can we authentically do this when we are less than grateful?  Feeling ashamed or guilty about the “real” nature of our feelings, or pretending to be thankful for what we would have very much preferred to say “NO thank you” to in our lives gets in the way of happiness and creativity.  What if your heart is broken?  What if you are in terrible pain without relief in sight?  What if you have received terrifying news that has changed your life in an even more awful way?  Even with all the joyful self-help gurus and happy, shiny, advanced yogi specialists beaming at you from their glossy magazines promising peace and abundance for all your expressions of gratitude, and even as much as you wish to crawl into their tie-dyed yoga pants and bask in the bliss of all that they proclaim and stand for, the truth is that when your life is going to Hades in a …

Forward Folds and Bending Over Backwards in Nature

The number one thing that adults say when I tell them that I am a yoga teacher is: “Oh, I can’t do yoga!  I’m so inflexible and I can’t even get close to touching my toes.” For about twenty-years now, I have tried every socially acceptable way possible at these moments to try to explain that yoga isn’t about being flexible, that anyone and everyone can benefit, that one may or may not become more flexible through yoga, that flexibility is, truly….besides the point entirely.  As soon as I start talking, I see the recipient’s eyes glaze over.  They are no longer paying attention to me, mostly because they only asked what I did for a living as a social pleasantry in the first place. Now, they are filled with regret for having ever made eye contact in the first place.  I can almost see the thoughts of escape to the cheese platter or, even better, the bar, cross their mind. A couple weeks ago I was on a walk with a friend when t …

The Truth About Parenting and Sleep

When I was pregnant with my first child, who is now ten years old, I was unable to sleep well through most of my pregnancy for a variety of reasons from nausea, insomnia, heartburn, a painfully itchy rash, and other reasons.  Complete strangers, friends, and relatives would say things to me like, “You better sleep now, because you are never going to sleep again once that baby is born!”.  This caused me a lot of anxiety because, if this was true, then I was blowing my last chance at sleep.  Also, this is simply a terrifying thing to hear.  Why does anyone say this to pregnant women?  While I have some ideas on why people say scary things to pregnant women, it seems most important here to share the realities of parenting and sleep. The Truth The truth is that, as a parent, you are a parent all day and all night.   This reality changes your relationship to the type of activities you engage in both during the day and night.  This may seem obvious, but it …

Geography of Awareness

Do you see these “markings” on the back of the fern’s leaves?  In fact, these patterns are spores.  Each one is a potential fern.  The ferns carry their fertility in each and every leaf.  If you are interested in joining a spore exchange group (not kidding), then you might want to look into membership in the Hardy Fern Foundation.  The American Fern Society is over 100 years old and has more than 900 members all over the world. Not only that, but each type of fern has spores that organize in a different pattern. Recently, I have gone on retreat for a few hours a week to the Fern Room at Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Each pilgrimage to this sacred space has brought me to a deeper place of respect for this amazing plant type.  I am also grateful to the amazing Theresa who cares for these plants and seems to have a well of patience for all my questions as well as some of the other horticulturists and care takers who work without …

Monkey Legs

I remember the day that I learned there was something ugly and wrong with me like it happened yesterday. The summer after third grade, when I was nine, I was invited for a day trip to the beach in Brooklyn, NY.  It wasn’t hot enough for a bathing suit, but we were all in shorts and t-shirts.  It was such a beautiful day and I remember being joyful in body and mind.  We ran up and down the beach chasing waves and I can still feel the quality of light as it danced on the water and reflected back up to my face from the sand.  I have always had thick and beautiful hair and it was pulled back into a braid so the end of it rhythmically thumped on my back between my shoulders as I ran. We finally stopped for a moment to take a break and all of us girls sat in a circle and chatted about the things that nine year old girls chat about.  There was laughing.  After a rest …

How to Claim Your Mammauthority

Many of my clients have experiences where their authority as a mother to make decisions for their infants and parenting, or lifestyle around parenting are not only questioned, but threatened.  No matter how many children you have, the time when you have a newborn and for their first year of life seems to be when mothers are most vulnerable to the opinions of others.  How to find good sources of information for decision-making around parenting is a whole other topic for consideration.  This post is about ways to claim your authority without alienating members of your community, friends, and family when offered unsolicited advice or your ability to care for your child is questioned. Here is my tried and true method for claiming your “Mammauthority” in all situations.  Please comment below with your experiences and let me know how this has worked or not worked for you. Foundations of the Method #1: The underlying principle in this method is that you are the mother and you have the right and responsibility to care for your …

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 …

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 …