About a month ago I started a new journey with my body. I felt something coming on on the first day of the Minneapolis Yoga Conference while I had the pleasure of taking an all day intensive with author and world renowned teacher, Rolf Gates. It was subtle, and I ignored it, and in denial I thought it would pass. Later that weekend I had the honor of being a guest presenter during the Devanadi Yoga Teacher Training. In the middle of my presentation when I was standing up to make a point, I felt it. That same feeling that come over me about a year and half ago, although this time I wasn't rollerblading with my Great Dane, I was in the middle of presenting for Pro-Day, to about 30 women, me, a pro. The feeling was immense pain, although this time, it was just a twinge. It wasn't until I got in my car after my presentation to drive home that I knew this was real and it was not going to be pretty.
I drove around Lake Harriet to get home and I had to pull over because I was in so much pain. I called my husband and told him. It was Sunday afternoon so I couldn't get into see my chiropractor, but I left a message to get in first thing the next day. When I got home I put on the old TENS-Unit form my last episode a year and half ago. I also took 2 Advil, which is a big deal for me. This goes without saying, but I also used a lot of my essential oils.
By Monday I had graduated to the leftover pain medication I had from my previous attack and my husband had to leave work briefly so he could drive me to see my chiropractor. I could not operate a motor vehicle. Insert laughing crying emoji.
When I got to Dr. Kim, I couldn't even lay on the table to receive my entrainment. I had to just sit. I wasn't worried, Dr. Kim always meets me where I am at. It is really great to know that she is there for me. Thanks Dr. Kim.
That first day of recovery I cancelled everything and just laid in bed excluding multiple trips to the chiropractor. That week I saw Dr. Kim everyday. I was in so much pain I couldn't even think about getting a massage -- that would be too much. Over a week later I received some Shiatsu from Aaem Mitchell which was really helpful. It was a gentle way to get my energy flowing and and ease into massage.
I've continued receiving bodywork, massage and acupuncture from Jason Lee, and chiropractic care multiple times a week this entire month with some yoga here and there. It is really hard for me to get on my mat right now because I am going through all my healing stages: anger, humility and gratitude. My natural reaction is to push away all those feelings and avoid it. Yoga makes me cry because I have to face my new limitations. I am mostly still in anger and humility, I haven't quite gotten too much of the gratitude stage yet.
I've been going through my days limiting my physical activities to take care of myself and heal. Last week I got to travel to Spokane, Washington to visit my brother, and niece and nephew. I started daily workouts again with my niece, Isabella. It has felt really good. Again, I am frustrated because I lost a lot of the strength and ease I had gained from ramping up my fitness in February, bit still, it feels good to get gently moving again.
This Tuesday I had a photo shoot with Marjorie so she could take some photos of me for this project my company, Healing Media is working on with the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. It was nice to see Marjorie but I didn't feel like myself really. The shoot, thank goodness, was mostly centered on portraiture and personality, not on crazy poses.
Triangle pose is not a crazy pose and I thought it could be a good posture for me. You can see pain and anger on my face as I try to get into a once effortless posture.
Needless to say, I won't be submitting this photo for my portrait a The Yoga Center, but I wanted to show you a moment Marjorie captured of what it is like to work with injury. It's like you know your body, but now you have a totally different body with new, crazy quirks. I've been practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching for over 10. Each time I work through a set-back or an injury I always come through a better, more experienced and more compassionate teacher. I know this, but it is really hard for me right now, when I'm in the middle of this pain. My reaction is to crave the other side of this. The side where I am better for it. The side where I'm not in pain. The side where I have a story to tell. I'm not there yet. I know this won't last forever, nothing does, but when you're in the middle of it, it is really hard to maintain the clarity of impermanence.
I came across a quote this morning that makes me feel pretty awesome and also inspired me to write this blog today.
At my visit to Dr. Kim yesterday she assured me that I was going to come out better for this, and that
I am improving. I know this is true, but that doesn't make it easy.
This post isn't sponsored but I do love to connect people, it is one of my favorite things to do actually.
If you are looking for a great chiropractor, check out Dr. Kimberly Berkus.
If you are looking for awesome massage, here are some therapists I love:
Aaem Mitchell, Jason Lee, Cindy Gorbonow, Gary Heyer, Lynda Flores
Please share some of your healing journeys and insights in the comments below. Also, if you are reading this blog but don't live in the Twin Cities, give your city a shoutout and share some of your favorite go-to massage therapists and chiropractors in the comments below, you may help someone who needs it.
Elizabeth Camp, 3/31/17
Yoga Camp Founder, E-RYT 500
Recently, I attended a ten-day silent meditation retreat. At a Vipassana retreat, your aren’t allowed access to books, journals, iPhones or even eye contact. The intention is to eliminate all external noise in order to create a conducive container for meditation.
Left to my own devices, I’m the type of gal that reads three books a week, listens to podcasts constantly, and compulsively checks social media. I knew this was going to be a challenge. My neurons were habituated to constant stimulation and the transition was rocky. On day three, I was sitting on a bench outside and a mosquito bit me. I was elated---finally some stimulation! On day four, I found myself laughing a little too loud at the nightly dharma talk, reaching desperately for some comedic relief. I read and re-read the course rulebook. And, eventually, I gave up. I finally surrendered to my inability to control my sensory input and started tuning into my surroundings.
So, what was underneath my constant need for stimulation? Lots of boredom. Emotions: some pleasant, many not. A mind that is obsessively interested in replaying past memories (mainly regarding ex-boyfriends and even some reality TV episodes. Careful what you take in folks, it stays there.). And a persistent feeling of emptiness that I’ve all my life felt compelled to constantly fill with noise, busyness, and persistent stimulation. Pema Chodron talks about making contact with the fundamental slipperiness and mystery of our being, which has no fixed identity. She calls this place the fundamental “groundlessness” of being. This was the place I’d been running away from.
But, is this “groundlessness” to be feared? What compelled me to persistently run away from it? As I continued to sit with this groundless feeling in my meditations, I realized that it is extremely threatening to the part of me that believes I’m in control, the part of me that’s attached to a fixed identity, and prefers pleasure, and resists pain. Sound familiar to anyone else? These are evolutionary mechanisms our brains have evolved to protect us, so moving away from these instincts naturally brings up resistance. As I began to feel more comfortable with and even to befriend the sense of groundlessness, I found a newfound fearlessness arise. If I could stay with the discomfort long enough to notice that all my sensations were in constant transformation, I felt braver to sit with whatever arose. Also, as I was able to sit with the direct experience of groundlessness, there was, in fact, all the stimulation I could ever crave. Here, everything constantly arises and falls away. There is nothing stable in sight. Everything is always new.
Tuning into this constant flux, with neutrality and kindness, offers wisdom about the very nature of reality. Sit with this direct reality long enough and you may even make contact with that which is eternal and unchanging.
To experience the raw nature of reality for yourself, I’d highly recommend attending a course. They are free (donations accepted) and one of the best investments of time you will ever make. In a culture that is hyper-focused on the value of the mind through education and accumulation of knowledge, we are not given tools to understand the mind’s limitations and train it for liberation. Vipassana is Bootcamp for mind liberation. For more information visit: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index
IT-employee by day, yogi by night has been the name of my game for almost 12 years now. Working for a large Corporation has its benefits, however when it comes to living the Yoga lifestyle, it can seem a bit controversial for some. Over the years I have really worked hard to make these two, very different, worlds collide, and with great success! Not only does Yoga enhance my life greatly, but I have also seen the huge benefits Yoga has brought to my career. You read that right - Yoga can help you at work too! Don’t believe me? Take a look to see five ways you can live your yoga while working for “The Man”, and how it can enhance your life and your career.
1) Breathing through Meetings
How many times have you been in a stressful meeting and forgot to breathe? It is in these moments that I recall 3-part breathing from Yoga Teacher Training, and I bust that bad-boy out. No one in the meeting has a clue that I am basically meditating in the middle of their speech, and I am reaping all of the benefits! A calmer mind and body, clearer focus, an ability to speak my mind on the topics at hand, and all with a soft smile on my face. If you have never practiced 3-part breathing, there are numerous YouTube and Instagram videos, or you can take a class at your local Yoga studio!
2) Mini Meditations
You read it right. Yoga has taught me that meditation is good, not meditating is not so good. Since I rarely have time to sit for 30 minutes and meditate, I do mini meditations throughout the day. At my desk is the most frequent location, where I’ll sit for 30-60 seconds with my eyes closed and focus on listening to everything around me. All of the sounds become one harmonious melody that put me at peace. Yes, even the sounds of a corporate office can be soothing if we allow them to be. The typing of my co-workers in their cubicles, the sound of the IMs chiming, phones ringing, copy machines running, it’s almost like music to my meditated ears. The benefits of meditation are numerous and would require another blog post, but the main benefit in the work place is a renewed focus and energy for the tasks ahead.
3) Chant while you Commute
My commute to work is 1.5 hours one way and it involves 3-parts (just like yogic breathing, don’t think I didn’t notice that parallel).
Part #1 – 40 minute drive to the train station
Part #2 – 30 minute train ride to downtown Minneapolis
Part #3 – 20 minute walk to the office
Each part of that commute serves a purpose for me. Part #1, alone in my car, I often chant or make the mantras of the day that I repeat out loud. Always softly at first, because 4:30 am is a delicate time of the day, but eventually I find my voice and belt them out as loud as possible (added bonus: opening my throat chakra, which is equally important for that corporate job). Part #2 of my commute, gives me time to reflect on yesterday and the day ahead of me. It is often here where I write Instagram posts, edit photos, and comment on people’s inspiring images and captions. The train is where I find inspiration to live my yoga! Part #3 is a moving meditation, as walking always has been something very calming for me. I love feeling peace and tranquility while walking through the hustle and bustle of the skyways in Downtown Minneapolis. It gives me a sense of freedom and release that I can find nowhere else.
4) Make time for Asana
As you can see from above, my time is very limited because of working full-time and commuting 3-hours a day, which makes this number by far the hardest one out of the bunch. Asana, the physical practice of Yoga, can be difficult for anyone to squeeze time in for. In fact, I have been known to sneak in a few Sun Salutations in the storage closet at the office (shhh, don’t tell my boss!) if I have to!
Perhaps the best part about our physical yoga practice is we need no equipment, we need only to tune into our breath. A mat and yoga clothes help, so I always keep a set of clothes and a mat at the office. I have been known to practice on my lunch-breaks, which comes with its own set of challenges:
Challenge #1 - At my office all of the conference rooms have glass walls so the only place I have found that I can practice acceptably is in the Mother’s Room (which is about 3 feet by 8 feet in size). Challenge #2 - I am a sweaty person (thanks, Pitta) and getting sweaty on lunch is tricky to deal with because of hair and makeup. For this challenge I keep organic face wipes and hair supplies at my desk, and just refresh my hair and makeup when done.
Challenge #3 - Corporate employees love to socialize and network on lunch and missing too many of these can cause a negative hit on a person’s corporate status. Sad, but true. That said, I still practice probably 1 day per week on lunch break, the others I reserve for networking and I practice before work. Life is about balance, right?
I share these challenges because I want you to know that everyone faces difficulties when it comes to finding time in our busy lives. Find something that works for you and your life in order to fit in a practice. Some days it might only be 10-minutes long, others a full 2-hour flow, and some days it might just be pranayama. Just fit in some semblance of a practice into your busy life and you will feel incredible!
5) Follow the Yamas and Niyamas
In the movies, people at the corporate office are quick to cut, judge, and backstab each other; it almost seems like it’s part of the job! Unfortunately, this can sometimes be not all that far from the truth. While it’s not as dramatic as we see on TV, it happens every day when working for “The Man”. As yogis, we need to live separate from that lifestyle as much as we possibly can. Luckily, Yoga has given us a way to live those out: the Yamas and Niyamas. Sometimes these are referred to as the 10 Commandments of Yoga, and they are as follows (a corporate translation in parenthesis):
1) Ahimsa – Nonviolence (be kind to everyone you meet)
2) Satya – Truthfulness (speak your truth, do not lie to get ahead)
3) Asteya – Non-stealing (don’t take credit for work you didn’t do)
4) Brahmacharya – Non-excess; chastity (don’t have affairs with your co-workers)
5) Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness/greed (share your work knowledge with co-workers)
1) Saucha – Purity, cleanness of mind, body, and speech (bathe regularly, don’t speak ill of others)
2) Santosha – Contentment (love even those with whom you disagree)
3) Tapas – Self-discipline (work hard and be consistent, in work-life and yoga-life)
4) Svadhyaya – Self-Study (constantly check yourself to be a better person)
5) Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrender (Let go of control)
If you’re working for “The Man” and feel like you can’t find time for your Yoga, I hope these tips can help you going forward. Try one thing at a time, and let them come with ease.
- Cassie Greer
March 19, 2017
I recently sat a full Vipassana Meditation course in Menomonie, Wisconsin and loved it. I highly recommend it, even though I wanted to quit everyday because it was really hard work. Today I going to make a St. Patrick's Day post on Instagram and was going through some images looking for something good. The first thing that came up was an image of a shamrock and I immediately remembered when a fellow meditator gave one of the best gifts I have ever received.
If you ever sit a Vipassana course you will take a vow of noble silence, which means that for most of the time you are there you will not speak to anyone or touch anyone or make eye contact with anyone for the duration of the course. During your time there you really have an opportunity to become very quiet and very clear. I honestly recommend it and think you should do it when you feel called to sit your first course. I loved it and have been vibing out on the benefits of Vipassana meditation all winter long.
After days on end after being silent for so long, deprived of human contact & connection, it must have been day 7, 8 or 9, it was a beautiful day outside and we were on a break between meditations. During breaks you are encouraged to take a walk on the path on your designated side of the retreat center, or rest in your dorm. I was outside deep in thought and out of nowhere the woman who sat behind me in the meditation hall, walked up to me and made eye contact with me with her sparkling blue eyes, and took a breath and handed me a four clover and then continued her walk.
I was completely overwhelmed by the human connection of eye contact, the touch of her hand and also overjoyed by the sight of a four leaf clover, which I had never seen in real life before. My current meditated state allowed me to feel all of the emotions of human connection and receiving gifts in this way that I had never experienced before. I felt a myriad of emotions: overwhelming joy and gratitude, longing, peace and complete overwhelm, along with the fear of tarnishing my Vipassana record with now having broken my vow of noble silence even though I was just sitting there and my gift giver broke it for me. All of my joy of receiving this beautiful, lucky gift took over and I decided to not create more drama by fretting over this brief encounter of human connection and just let the joy flood in.
Peace, and then more anxiety started forming. At that moment I felt like I had never received such a pure, authentic, beautiful and genuine gift. I didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't take a picture of it, because that wasn't allowed, and I was following the rules. The question that came to me was "should I keep this to myself or share this beautiful gift with someone else?" I ran through the different scenarios in my head if I kept it, then I'd be the only one to knew the true bliss of this shamrock. If I gave it away perhaps the recipient would also pass it on and so on and so forth until it got back the original gift giver and then all the women in the camp would have experienced my joy and gratitude.
I quickly decided to share my joy with the woman who sat directly in front of me in the mediation hall because she walked past me at the exact right moment. I called her "Secretary," in my mind because I hadn't met her prior to my noble silence vow and didn't know her name. (I gave everyone I didn't know secret names.) Immediately after I gave my gift to her I felt remorse because I no longer had my blessed and perfect four leaf clover and I also had no way of knowing what the Secretary would do with it. I was so stressed out because I felt like I had made the wrong decision. I had to process all of those feelings, all because of this gift!
I had to make peace with the fact that I gave it away, and that was that and I wouldn't know what became of my little four leaf clover until the final day when we could break our silence. I remembered that in the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says that a once a gift has been given and received, it has served its purpose, to be given. It is gift -- its purpose is lived out.
There was so much emotion and anxiety and guilt all wrapped up, excuse the pun, in receiving this one little gift. All I could do was sort through that because I was on my silent meditation retreat so I had plenty of time to think about it.
One of the many lessons I learned during my 10 day Vipassana course was about gift giving. I learned that the joy of giving and receiving gifts does not come from creating judgement or getting what one expects, it's about receiving kindness from another human being. SO no matter if you are given a four leaf clover from a silent, unknown friend, or sapphire earrings from your husband, that you never plan on wearing, it is not about the value of the gift, it is about the value of the effort, thought and energy given from one human to another. So I thank you for reading this. Happy St. Patrick's Day! This blog is for you!
For each petal on the shamrock.
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
Elizabeth Camp, Founder of Yoga Camp
I recently led the Second Annual Yoga Camp Photo Journey Retreat. It was an exceptional experience. I love this facet of Yoga Camp because I love serving women and helping guide them in their healing in the context of a carefully curated retreat. Honestly the whole retreat was outstanding.
We had an amazing time! All the activities were great, and the weather was cooperating, which was an enormous blessing. Thank you God! I can tell you about all of retreat experiences more in detail in another blog post later, and you can check my social media channels for more info and photos, but I want to focus today on something that was completely unexpected.
I booked the dates of this year's retreat over the full moon which occurred on October 15th, so we planned a full moon fire ceremony. That was amazing too! It was even warm enough to create the ceremony outside. That is another experience I would love to share more in detail about at a later time.
After our ceremony and finalé celebration, we went to bed. I woke up the next morning to take Maxime, my giant dog, outside. For some reason I followed my intuition and let her out the back door. I usually take her out quickly through the front door in the morning, but something told me to go in a different direction. I thought the sky looked pretty, and so I followed the sky down closer to the banks of the lake and peaked through the trees, only to find something I never even knew existed. The full moon on the horizon.
I wanted to let the campers that were interested in on this blessing, so I ran inside and announced eloquently, "Full Moon! Outside! Still Up!" Then I ran back outside and down to the dock.
What I saw was, the full moon, still up from the night before and it was setting over the horizon mixed with the gentle colors of sunrise floating in from East. I didn't even know something like this was a thing.
I had nothing to compare it to, and I've never seen anything like it before. I've seen the moon high in the sky on occasion while the sun is up, but this was entirely different.
The mixture of the colors and the epic landscape was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
I often observe that when I let go of expectations, or have no preconceived notions of what will be, I am the happiest. When I have expectations, I am usually disappointed.
The full moon in the morning surprised me, and filled me with joy! This full moon reminded me that life is full of gifts: some that I have not yet experienced, and some that I didn't even know were possible.
This beautiful moon reminded me to let go of my expectations, let myself be surprised, and to love and experience life fully.
When I walked back up to the cabin, I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite quotes about balance.
"Some nights stay up till dawn, as the moon sometimes does for the sun. Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way of a well, then lifted out into light."
Now I have experienced this in a deeper sense than I even knew was possible.
In sharing my experience with you, I urge you to follow your intuition. I urge you to take a deep breath, think about something you have expectations about and then let some of them go. If you are able, let all of your expectations go. Namaste my friend.
Landscapes by Elizabeth Camp
Portrait by Marjorie Renn Solis