how yoga helps us process emotional stress

how yoga helps us process emotional stress

Hi Yogis,

Understanding how our body handles emotional stress can help us to rewrite the effects of trauma.

As we start to understand that trauma is not a ‘mental’ condition, we can begin treating it in ways outside of the standard talk therapy model. Enter: The Polyvagal Theory.

As we start to understand that trauma is not a ‘mental’ condition, we can begin treating it in ways outside of the standard talk therapy model. Enter: The Polyvagal Theory.

Polyvagal theory explains three different parts of our nervous system and their responses to stressful situations. Once we understand those three parts, we can see why and how we react to high amounts of stress.

If polyvagal theory sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, stick around, the wisdom is worth it. It’s a fascinating explanation of how our body handles emotional stress, and how we can use different therapies it to rewrite the effects of trauma.

Been seriously considering adding The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) 1st Edition by Stephen Porges to Starseed Yoga Immersion RYT required reading because it scientifically validates yoga as a tool to truly help change impulsive surface reactivity to mindful response by becoming more connected to your here and now body.

WHY ISPOLYVAGALTHEORY IMPORTANT?

For everyone from yogis to mental health professionals to pop-psychology enthusiasts alike, understanding polyvagal theory can help with a deeper understanding of:

  • Trauma and PTSD

  • The dance of attack and withdrawal in relationships

  • How extreme stress leads to dissociation or shutting down

  • How to read body language

We like to think of our emotions as ethereal, complex, and difficult to categorize and identify.

The truth is that emotions are responses to a stimulus (internal or external). Often they happen out of our awareness, especially if we are out of touch, or incongruent, with our inner emotional life. 

Our primal desire to stay alive is more important to our body than even our ability to think about staying alive. That’s where polyvagal theory comes in to play. The nervous system is always running in the background, controlling our body functions so we can think about other things—like what kind of ice cream we’d like to order, or how to get that A in med school. The entire nervous system works in tandem with the brain, and can take over our emotional experience, even if we don’t want it to.

HOW TRAUMA AFFECTS THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

As humans, we do the same thing as our four-legged friends when we perceive emotional or physical danger. We alternate between peaceful grazing (parasympathetic - connection mode), fight or flight (sympathetic system- fight and flight) or shutdown (parasympathetic- shut down mode).

Our response is all in our perception of the event. Maybe someone was just playing a game when they jumped out to scare us, but we fainted. Whatever the reason, whether the incident was intentional or not, our body shifted into shutdown mode, we registered it as a trauma. Our body shifted into shutdown mode. Or maybe the trauma event was really life threatening, and our nervous system responded appropriately to the stimuli. 

No matter what the cause was, our brain believed what was happening was life threatening enough that it caused our body to go into flight, flight, or shutdown mode. If someone has been through such a traumatic event that their body tips into shutdown response, any event that reminds the person of that life-threatening occurrence can trigger them into disconnection or dissociation again. People can even live in a state of disconnection or shutdown for days or months at a time.

The problem occurs when we haven’t processed the original trauma in such a way that the original trauma is resolved. That’s what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is—our body’s overreaction to a small response, and either stuck in fight and flight or shut down.

People who experience trauma and the shutdown response usually feel shame around their inability to act, when their body did not move. They often wish they would have fought more during those moments.  

The right amount of stress, with good recovery skills, can lead our nervous systems into higher levels of adaptation.  

COMING OUT OF SHUTDOWN MODE

So how do we climb back out of shutdown mode? The opposite of the dorsal vagal system is the social engagement system. In short, what helps heal shutdown mode is bringing ourselves into healthy social engagement, or proper attachment.

Getting down into the nuts and bolts of how this works in our body can help us understand why we feel the way we do physically when your body is in fight, flight, or shut down mode.

When we understand why our body reacts the way it does, like a string of clues and some basic science about the brain, we can understand how to switch states. We can begin to move out of the fight or flight state, out of the shutdown mode, and back into the social engagement state.

 As starseeds, whether we are just establishing a connection with the root of our own anxiety, or helping others deal with their deep traumatic memories, knowing how to navigate the polyvagalstates is important. If you have even just a basic understanding how this works, you have a stronger skill set to pull out of a disconnected state.

Studies show that some parts of the brain shut down during the recall of traumatic events, including the verbal centers and the reasoning centers of the brain (Van Der Kolk, 2006).

The entire polyvagal theory should make us say “thank you!” to our bodies. Even if that system is overactive at times—unwarranted panic or anxiety—that our body is watching out for us, trying to keep us alive.

Our body reacting in that way is the same thing as animals either running away or going limp. And animals have no idea what emotions are in the first place.

When we understand that our emotional responses were adaptive, primal, and appropriate, we can get rid of the shame that non-reaction caused. Anger is an incredibly adaptive emotion, and it’s one we don’t allow ourselves to have. We think anger is bad. But truly, anger shows us where our healthy boundaries were crossed.

Anger gives us energy to overcome the obstacle. If we can identify our anger, we will see that we were not completely unresponsive to the traumatic event. If we can feel even the tiniest movement of a microexpression of anger on the face—the slight downturn of the inner eyebrows—we can prove our body didn’t totally betray us in that moment.

We can reconnect our body and our feelings to our emotions. This helps develop a state of congruence—where inside feelings match outer demonstrations of those feelings.

Further, as a dissociative memory is explored, finding anger and reducing shame allows for the memory to fundamentally change. Anger brings us out of dissociation. Movement helps to move the angry energy through the body.

  • Because shutdown causes us to freeze, reactivating body movements as well as talking through the trauma is a great way to reconnect the body and mind, to bring us out of shutdown.

  • It’s important to do the movement mindfully and slowly, focusing on the sensation of the movement. Eventually, a release of energy will cause the memory to become a narrative, instead of dissociating.

  • Moving, slow punching, kicking, twisting, running slowly in place—flips the person from shutdown into the fight or flight mode, with the goal being to move into connection, or social engagement, mode.

  • Body movement exercises, (and in my case, in conjunction with talking to a therapist) can fundamentally change the memory.

The human experience is so powerful that when we re-engage the trauma, with someone else to support us, it rewrites that event in our brain, adding in the feeling of being supported within the trauma memory. We create new neural pathways around the trauma, and we can change our body’s response to it.

  • Practice assertiveness. Emotional shutdown can occur within relationships where one person feels they cannot communicate with the other person well. One therapist, John Gottman, describes this practice as stonewalling. Practicing assertiveness can help the patient feel more in control of their emotional state, and feel safe to move into healthy relationship patterns.

  • Breath work, mindfulness, and yoga all have a role in becoming more connected to your here and now body. Our next e-book releasing next month will have specific poses that can help inflammation, anxiety and depression.

  • Engage in strength building practices and self-defense training. Teaching yourself how to better protect yourself in the future can be powerful and also resets the stress system over time. Learning to fight is an active way to not remain passive or fall into a victim archetype both in mindset and capability.  Further, doing something hard, on an ongoing basis, allows for building inner strength which can keep you in fight and flight longer before going into shut down.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2006). Clinical implications of neuroscience research in PTSD. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071(1), 277-293.

STARSEED △ MOVEMENT

Photo Credit: Shelby Sieler of Shelby K.A. Photography

Photo Credit: Shelby Sieler of Shelby K.A. Photography

F R E E D O M ▽ that comes from surrendering into the expansive creative process is so fulfilling that success or failure is no longer a major driving force #starseedaf
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individual uniqueness is something that our modern societies uphold + idolize, but in reality we are afraid to have too many colorful individuals

this style of yoga is dangerous to society and it’s logically structured system-based thinking and infrastructure. it’s dangerous because it mimics nature, which so many systems try to control and explain. as humans, we are asked to fit into boxes and labeled because individual style is neither trusted nor understood

style in and of itself does not make one an outsider- in fact, it makes one an insider to the secret processes of life. but to the powers that try to maintain control of the world, style is considered dangerous or at best, eccentric or quirky

style is more than skin deep

it is the cutting edge of creation itself. when we manifest this gift, we surrender ourselves to a creative process that controls us, rather than us controlling it

like nature, style is given shape by a wild, organic and unpredictable energy. it is full of genius + quantum leaps

the by-product of operating at a higher frequency by releasing gifts from inside your DNA, is manifesting dreams rather than simply dreaming them. you suddenly begin to make things happen

now anything becomes possible for you because in yielding to your inner spirit, the sheer force of creativity that comes through you frees up channels and opportunities that were previously blocked

the power of STARSEED △ MOVEMENT carries within it more than just a new concept- it carries intent from a higher realm that is far beyond the individual through whom it manifests
.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!
STARSEED △ MOVEMENT will be available TO ALL via online streaming!
Be the first to get access to our new online studio platform by signing up for the newsletter

starseed ▽ paradox: the book

Photo Credit: Andre Sigur

Photo Credit: Andre Sigur

guilty of knowing exactly
who i am
instead of buying into the illusion that
i am c o n t r a d i c t i o n
 the yoga of detachment brought me into the truth that
i am p a r a d o x 

 

starseed ▽ paradox | the book
x Leah Purugganan Slagenwhite

coming 2019

how to decolonize your yoga practice ▽

Photo Credit: Timothy Paule

Photo Credit: Timothy Paule

hi yogis,

these newsletters somehow became low-key therapy sessions [the book is out soon ;P]  in the meanwhile, for our loyalists, you know by now that I "love it away" in every situation.

the blissful starseed bubble that's promised through the fiery discipline required for a consistent yoga asana practice is worth the concerted effort, right?!

..of course, but true to Starseed fashion, there are multiple facets to conscious self-healing. this whole yoga thing requires digging deeper at what's in the underlying: this murky steep where denial and unacknowledgement of what seems like "too much" shadow-work dismantles to reveal fear of seeing what is really there.

because... what is there is painful.

silver lining- throughout all of the pain endured in life, the most resilient, beautiful part of it, is that my brain somehow wires itself to protect against even the slightest feeling of pain altogether. call me delusional. call me analytical. but it's the honest bare-bones truth of how I perceive the [grey] matter.

the past five years has been a preservation effort to get out of survival mode after cancer while offering through teaching- a "true to Source" yoga practice. daily, I reflect back and give out my energy as a gift to ask us to examine how to love deeper... my intention for practice in this space is to constantly question how we can grow our hearts + minds so that our individual yoga practice encompasses our collective well-being.

we all live in the modern world. how can we stay true to the authentic roots of yoga without diluting it and without having to move to a South East Asian monastery? is this even possible? am i a naive idealist for wanting to dissolve the divisions between people through art, traditional/ancient medicines, spirituality, and politics? am i a bliss bunny bypasser for believing that integrated healing practices are revolutionary and fundamental to our collective liberation?

to honor Source is to have an authentic yoga practice. 

to deconstruct further, the work of Professor Virgilio Enriques inspired these specific action steps offered for building an empowered, inspired practice with strong integrity at the root: 

1] approach the practice with humility. even if you can do all the complicated poses with perfect form. even if you've been to a thousand yoga classes that you know the postures so well you can get into them regardless of the butchered Sanskrit pronunciation. 

no matter how far along we are in our practices or how long we've been doing yoga, our work isn't over until till this life is over. complex postures + code words have never been what yoga is about.

when we are collectively humble and respectful in considering the depth of yoga’s history, context, many branches and types of practices, and also recognize the approach of the yoga-industrial-complex here in the West, we give ourselves a good chance of not wasting anymore energy on the arrogance of pretentious elitism and instead, achieve yoga’s aim of enlightenment of mind, body and spirit.

2] acknowledge where the practices come from  and the privilege we possess for simply being able to practice yoga as a health and wellness therapy [yoga + ayurveda were banned from India during British rule] we can attempt to understand and connect with the complexity, culture and history from which this tradition comes through exploring, learning, and citing accurate cultural references [i once learned that also during colonial rule Indians had been forbidden to tread the main thoroughfares in their own country- Shimla, India.] 

4] recognize your impact on space. unless it's a private one-on-one yoga class, every BODY who comes into a setting like ours is intending to share space with other humans in a class. whether you are conscious of it or not, we are all emitting energy from our subconscious + taking it into our subconscious. 

adding a level of awareness to the ways in which we are on the privileged side of the injustices that came before us so that we could practice yoga here in the West helps the revolution of our body, mind, and spirit and the overall liberation our Spirits we all inherently seek.

5] live, know, share and practice all 8 limbs of yoga, not just asana.

starseed practices and teaches all 8 limbs of yoga: yama or ethical conduct, niyama or personal practice, pranayama or working with the breath, pratyahara awareness of the senses, dharana, meditation, concentration and insight, dhyana or being present with whatever arises and samadhi, or interconnection with all that is. 

Here's to staying true to ourselves,
Leah Purugganan-Slagenwhite | Written October 2018

spiritual capitalism

Photo Credit: Linnie Briley for L. Briley Photography

Photo Credit: Linnie Briley for L. Briley Photography

heal·ing

/ˈhēliNG/

noun

  1. the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.
    "the gift of healing"

adjective

  1. tending to heal; therapeutic.
    "a healing experience"

synonyms: 

 alleviate, ease, assuage, palliate, relieve, help, lessen, mitigate, attenuate, allay

 "time will heal the pain of grief"

 

At the heart of our core values + mission at Starseed is healing, of ourselves + those around us. Yoga teaches us the connection to all living beings, built upon this principle of taking care of the vehicle for our souls so that those of us who feel called may also nurture those around us.
 

Healing itself doesn’t have anything to do with making money, enlightenment, manifesting, running a business, having life go the way you want or having all the things.
 

Spiritual capitalism has done a great job in twisting all of these things together. Not everything in life is a narcissistic extension of us.

After seeking externally for guidance on how to quelch this incessant longing for God[dess] within, I had spent thousands of dollars in countless self-empowerment courses and therapies. This whole “healing” thing has become a way to attack ourselves, rather than releasing the bonds that hold us in the prison of our minds; to approach our remembrance of our Selves as these endless projects that we need to get right in order for all the things we are promised in this Land of the Free Utopian Dreams.

Healing is sold to us as a product to be consumed.  We all operate from a broken place, most of us doing the best we can to “be healthy” without getting duped.

Whole industries capitalize on it while gaslighting us and perpetrating the same traumas it claims to heal. Most “good” marketing purposely targets pain points, designed to trigger the feeling of insecurity, luring you in to some energy you perceive that you do not have but that you think you want so you invest in it so that you are closer to that energy. It is built on creating the feeling of scarcity while shaming you for living in some lack “mentality” and judging you until you have done your “work.”
 

This is the Death Mother archetype, the feminine side of the patriarchy. She feeds off of shame and control. She is alive and well and perhaps the toughest knot to unravel is the stronghold she has on the unwillingness to see her own blind spots. She is the patriarchy’s wife, who is dependent upon self-interest, financial success and increased consumption. 
 

Over the past 20 years, there have been workplaces taking steps toward health and inner peace. However, seekers of these healing values are not guided to consider the ethics of what they are doing or the violent and oppressive systems in which their industries are entangled.

All the emphasis is on individual happiness, self-acceptance and well-being. The capitalist/militarist system is not to be questioned. Responsibility for anxiety and other issues are placed on the individual. You need to meditate so you can learn to CHOOSE to be calm and free of stress, to accept yourself, to be kind to yourself. You need to improve your individual well-being. You don’t need to put your secure and/or well-paying job at risk. 
 

When we have a keen awareness of the Death Mother's self-importance and what a strong business this archetype runs within ourSelves and society, we can begin to see where we can stop betraying ourselves and immediately shine light on our own blind spots, with the intent to bring us closer to our own liberation. 


Death Mother denys, does not acknowledge and/or "give energy to" the physiological effects of wounding and trauma- thereby perpetuating it. She shames people suffering. 

Shame is the ugly underbelly of our increasingly narcissistic consumer driven culture. Shame is unmetabolized pain.

Human suffering and trauma is very real. The “active processes of forgetting that oppression exists” [Aurora Levins Morales’ Medicine Stories] is very real. And cunning.

 

There are those of us that are more comfortable in the density of it. There are some of us who are more comfortable in the “light,” even if it is false light. We as humans either hide in our humanity or hide in our divinity, identifying with God and also forgetting we are not God. “True knowledge,” my high school English teacher said, “is to know that you know that you don’t know.”

 

God is not a narcissist.

 

All 7B of us here on this planet will have different opinions on what systems will work for all us and there is no doubt that capitalism is spreading through the world at a stunning pace, and is infiltrating more and more aspects of our lives. 

 

We need healing so that we can regain our collective sanity and restore human values of goodness and love and generosity to the forefront of our connections.

 

We must reawaken to the reality that quality of life is based on the integrity of human relationships [#IRL] creativity, cultural and artistic expression, spirituality, reverence for  the natural world, and celebration of life, and it is not dependent upon self-interest, financial success or who has nicer shit- and more of it than you do. 

We must become aware of the chords that connect to souls and suck them of their integrity and numb them of feeling, keeping us from healing. That much I do know.  When did “we all have to make money” become an acceptable excuse for self-interested cutthroat behavior that gives no thought to how others are affected? 

None of us knows how to solve the problems of the planet. No one of us has all the answers. So, we ask the questions.

In what ways have we allowed capitalism to lead us? Have we as a collective lost the ability to see true purpose of serving one another? Have we rooted purpose in capital gain, mass produced profit margin off of stolen ideas, lands and lives? 

It is our very confusion of what it is to be human- this soul wound in the heart of humanity that requires tending. What are the ways we can reinforce our collective integrity, and learn how to trust and love without trying to control, dominate, and take-over?

Can a balance between human values consistent with capitalism [self-interest, financial success, competition, and consumption] and those aims of spirituality [altruism, benevolence,generatively] exist?


Here at Starseed, we start from the humblest place of the student, asking the questions that begin the conversation of "staying woke" instead of thinking you already know the future and how all these other beings here can live their best lyfe.


Here's to shining the light on our Selves, dusting off the cast off bits, purging the grief stored up, dancing with joy and finally being f r e e,
Leah + the Starseed Yoga Team [novel coming soon LOL]

dinacharya | self-care

Photo Credit: Molly Grunewald onsite at Alchemy: Slow Living for Thara Sacra

Photo Credit: Molly Grunewald onsite at Alchemy: Slow Living for Thara Sacra

Hi Yogis,

admittedly, i am work in progress, especially in this department- the entire reason this studio exists was in a rather large effort to keep dinacharya, or daily rituals of self-care, that my teacher Stacey taught us was a deep reason as to how + why the yoga works
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dinacharya practices are the cornerstone of starseed yoga immersion training program and emphasize the mornings as our most sacred time. these hours create the foundation for the rest of our day [in sanskrit ‘dina’ means day, sun or flow, and ‘charya’ means practice or conduct]
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the bare bones of Ayurvedic bio-rhythms are now recognized by modern science as #CircadianRhythms
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in 2017, the Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael C. Young for their ‘discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythms’

classical Ayurvedic texts outlined this centuries ago, including science of sleep, detoxification, and renewal in detail in ‘Charaka Samhita’ outlined in the chapter ‘Dinacharya’
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modern science is indeed beginning to validate this ancient wisdom, but ultimately, self-healing with ayurveda is deeper than diet + workout plan. it is letting go of deep subconscious elements. if deeper analysis is not taken, weight will still remain.
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you can put the body through immense pain + lose the weight temporarily, but it will come back because the body is in a stress holding pattern, hanging onto what the mind + emotions are avoiding.
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we are bodies of water. water stores emotional information. take a look at your deep waters + commit to a cleansing process

to know the breath is to know life

Photo Credit: Andre Sigur

Photo Credit: Andre Sigur

Hi Yogis,

Do you practice conscious breathing?

In yoga, one of the key aspects is the management of prana, which is our vital life force. By directing the flow of breath, we can become aware of our linking of body + mind (aka "koshas" in yoga) + develop a higher level of consciousness.

The 5 movements of prana are nows as Vayus which means "vital winds." Each vayu governs different areas of the body + when balanced, we are in full realization of living life with meaning + purpose.

Lofty promise of salvation, eh? 

Try it: Inhale deeply. We are already creating rising energy, referred to as Prana Vayu, which is responsible for growth and renewal. The energetic movement of the inhalation flows upwards from the belly to the chest. Sometimes it can be handy to visualize a glass filling up with water. 

On our exhalation, Apana Vayu is created, a downward flowing energy which is responsible for grounding and elimination. Now, we imagine the glass being emptied. 

The opposing energies that we find in the breath of rise (prana) and fall (apana) can be found everywhere in nature - summer and winter, day and night, space and earth, movement and stillness. 
 
Take a few moments in your day to step out of the mechanical. Feel and notice the breath as a beautiful cosmic receiving and releasing of energy.

Here's to us as the scientists, trying to make sense of the stars inside of us,
Leah + the Starseed Yoga Team
@starseedyogis | Registered Yoga School


a note from the heart on our 5th birthday

Photo Credit: Raaj Mandal

Photo Credit: Raaj Mandal

THE GOAL OF HEALING IS NOT A PAPERING-OVER OF CHANGES IN AN EFFORT TO PRESERVE OR PRESENT THINGS AS NORMAL ▽ IT IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE + WEAR YOUR NEW LYFE: WARTS, SCARS,WISDOM, AND ALL- WITH COURAGE.

Ok. Now down to the real business. 

Prior to writing this email, I pulled Spider Medicine from my Animal Medicine card deck. Spider is the female energy of the creative force that weaves the beautiful designs of life. When the proverbial web of a business plan was beginning it's weave 5 years ago, I was just coming off chemotherapy treatment for Stage IV [advanced, widespread] Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I felt invincible. I felt like I could do anything, especially since it was validated through a cancer-free PET Scan that I had won the battle!

Looking back, I truly could not make logical sense of my feelings- why I would ever consider leaving the comfort of having achieved everything I had worked for in Corporate, with its generous salary + bonuses. Having a young family, it logically made sense to continue regardless of how dead to my soul I became. But this burning, passionate desire to help people would not go away.

High on inspiration and the fiery desire to help others find a healing path that integrated BOTH movement + personal empowerment through the study of yoga was created into a specialized, sacred space in September 2013, with brick-and-mortar manifestation on November 1st 2014. 

Make no mistake though, the fire has burned out before. I've wanted to give up when it gets too hard + hip to stay relevant. The fight for priority between the interests of protection/self-preservation + expansion/growth + true compassion/caring for the vulnerability of our fellow humans while still dealing with our own issues of being 30-something, still growing up and raising little humans can be an emotionally confusing battle. Imagine adding money for survival into that mix.

With the help of yoga off the mat: a strong family, very good friends + low key parked car therapy sessions with aforementioned people, this 5 years has given me the fortunate experience of coming to the understanding that:

  • Feelings are very valid + real. Ignoring feelings is really just a form of self-betrayal. All emotions are useful to our growth if we learn to shift them around so that we are fueled by the fire instead of consumed by it. Feeling is the greatest gift of human intelligence, making us strong, brave, and beautiful. They do not make one weak, clingy, or overemotional when you know how to ground down + work with them effectively.

  • You have the ability to create what you want to see in this world. In this town of big box stores, little ole desk job me saw that there is another option for our teachers, fellow mothers, wives, and friends to really come into an understanding that we have the power to command our own energy, no matter how bleak the survival rate really looks. 
     

  • Trauma permanently changes us. This is the big, scary truth abouttrauma. There is no such thing as "getting over it." The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no "back to the old me." You are different now, full stop. This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new definitions of strength + joy [much like how Julie, Founder of NamaSTAYSTRONG, states].

The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge + wear your new lyfe: warts, scars, wisdom, and all- with courage.


Needless to say, together, as you can see simply by being in the space, we have spun our own web of delight. Starseed is not just mine, it is shared in harmonious relation with the Guides, Teachers, Old and New Souls. 

The most important message that Spider delivers through this letter today is that we are infinite beings who will continue to weave the patterns of life and living throughout time.

Here's to seeing the expansiveness of how you live within the divine plan,
Leah + the Starseed Yoga team | Written September 2018

dear divine masculine

Photo Credit: @ofthevioletray

Photo Credit: @ofthevioletray

Hello Yogis,

As within, so without. 
As above, so below.

As the world is spiraling largely due to the effects of oppressive patriarchal systems and toxic masculinity, I am being called within my own spiritual journey to explore and heal my inner Divine Masculine, especially through the yoga of business. 

As much as our sacred activism is driven by action: going out into the world and doing what we can to make positive changes; the Shiva/Shakti, Masculine/Feminine, Yang/Yin, is equally driven also by surrender to the inward journey, to heal and transform the parts of ourselves are contributing/mirroring what we see out in the world today.

As our latest Yoga Immersion group is learning, the more we do our inner work, the more we are able to offer more of our sacred medicine to the world. And so it is that as priestesses, we must not be afraid to go into the shadow places within ourselves to do our work there. It serves us, our inner peace, and feeds the world peace too.

After the extensive and deep work I have done last year around my Divine Feminine, I'm now ready to dive into this new journey of the Divine Masculine. And I feel intuitively that on a collective level, just like we have needed the rise of the Divine Feminine, we now too need the rise of the Divine Masculine if we are too experience true change and healing in the world.

Most of what we have seen of the Masculine in modern history is the rise and domination of oppressive patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Matriarchy is not the answer to this. It'snot about Feminine vs Masculine. A healthy balance between the two energies is what is being called upon. A merging and fusion of all into One - both individually and collectively.

It's so interesting because when it comes to the Divine Masculine journey, I find myself having to undo the programming that is in place: The Masculine has always felt too dominating and aggressive; or largely absent and antagonistic. Now, I am ready to form a relationship to the Masculine which is tender, strong, kind, stable, wise and loving. I wish to create that relationship within myself first, so that I can understand how to start creating it in the outer world.

I have no maps. No idea of what the first steps are...  No clue what this journey is even going to look like. I just know that this work is going to help me create a level of inner sovereignty and outer joy like nothing I've ever experienced before.

In our #iAMGoddess Yoga course series, we embody invocations, or visions, of Goddesses from all cultures throughout ancient history. 

Below is an  'Invocation to the Divine Masculine' in Alana Fairchild's Isis Oracle guidebook. This invocation feels like a beautiful vision of what our relationship to the Divine Masculine can become, if we truly want it to:

INVOCATION TO THE DIVINE MASCULINE

Man of Power, Man of Fire,
Man who liberates heart's desire
Man within and Man without
Man stronger than fear or doubt
Father, Warrior, Leader, Lover
Protector, Hunter, Teacher, Brother
Man Divine, Man of Love
Man of the Earth, Man of Heaven Above
Your Strength, My Strength
Your Power, My Power
Your Love, My Love
Integrity, Honour, Compassion, Protection
Tenderness, Stability, Passionate Attention
Man Divine, Man of Love
Man of the Earth, Man of Heaven Above
 
Leah Purugganan-Slagenwhite  | Written May 2017

the axis of light | dark

Photo Credit: Leah Purugganan-Slagenwhite

Photo Credit: Leah Purugganan-Slagenwhite

Hello Yogis,

Far less pain + fear internally. 

And a deeper trust of my own internal guidance.

As a human functioning from a place of confusion + emotional overwhelm, the personal gifts from the practice of yoga have not only been alleviating of this, but also the opportunity to learn about my/our own sensitivities. 

With even just a basic understanding of this world view "to be here now," provided me enough of what was needed to go deeper and have space to acknowledge, get curious about the intensity of feelings and feel the intensity of the feeling with no judgement.

And it also gave the gift of falling into what we would call "the space inside."

Rather than the mental fray or emotional impacts we can have with each other when there is chaos or drama in relationships, we are given the ability to go to the the space of ... nothingness + peace + stillness + quietness, and diminish the density of the pain in the human experience. 

Like some of us, as a young adult, I was functioning much more horizontally bombarded, connected to more worldly things, reacting to everything going on outside of me, externally. Hyper-focused on what would make me "good enough" and ignoring, repressing, and suppressing all that made me good enough just by existing. 

Now, creating that space daily for the yoga practice also provides the container to go into the space inside. And when you can go inside, you can also connect upwards. In my experience, the horizontal is our earthly relationships, planet earth connections + the vertical is our spiritual, divine connection. 

There are some who are trained to just be horizontal and also vice versa; some people have such a traumatic experience in the horizontal that they disappear into the vertical and do not want to come back from spirituality and meditation. 

Can you blame us? It's painful on the horizontal. 

But here we are at the point of all of this- both planes meeting at a balance point is perfect- where the real juice, the good stuff of life happens.

This space between is what we want to create at Starseed Yoga for those who are willing : ) 

Stay in the axis, 
Leah Purugganan Slagenwhite | Written April 2017