On this new moon I pray to you
For paradigm alchemy
On this new moon I pray to you
For paradigm alchemy
My poetry tends to be positive… in celebration of nature, recognition of spirit, and of love. However, no authentic person is cheery 100% of the time and I think it’s important to share the full range of my experiences. I woke up this morning feeling a bit down and recalled this poem I wrote many months ago. Because of its tone, I didn’t love it and didn’t share it at the time but this morning I feel called to bring it out from the dark. We all have past experiences that haunt us and the best we can do is to heal them by bringing them into the light.
Why do you hide
In the once fertile garden
Of my collapsing heart?
Are you waiting to steal
The tears from my eyes?
This land was made
For beauty to grow
But you’re taking the life
From the seeds I have sown.
What can I give
To place you at rest?
To keep you from taking
The light from my chest?
Are we karmicly bound?
How can I wash
Your scent from my ground?
I know who you are and
I’ve asked you to leave.
Has my heart not had
Enough of your grief?
Wake up! Wake up!
It’s time to break up
With all the dark energy
Filling our cups
We live in such stress
It turns to distress
Then turns to disease
Our bodies a mess
There is a known cure
We’ve heard it before
Turn off “The News”
And open the door
Step on outside
The dark will subside
Once the sunlight
Can open our eyes
Look out! Look out!
It’s all coming now
We can let it release
We can give it a shout!
Nature won’t mind
Her patience divine
She takes it from us
And transmutes it in time
There is a new way
With each dawning day
To fill up our lives
With beauty with play
Breathe the fresh air
Show ourselves care
Connect more with Earth
And the better we’ll fare
On August 22nd, I wrote an article about Yoga for The Madison County News-Record and Sentinel . Below is the text from the article published below. I had a 400 word limit (impossible) which I came very close to with a lot of cuts. It doesn’t flow exactly how I’d like since style had to be sacrificed for the space to put in that wonderful picture taken during one of my retreats. It was published with minor changes and a title chosen by the editorial staff. Overall, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to write about something so dear to my heart, as a member of the local community. This is in Marshall, a small town, about 20 minutes north of Asheville, North Carolina.
While yoga is great for the body, a regular practice also nourishes subtler parts of the self. We become physically stronger, grounded, and centered, and so do our minds and spirits as we grow into our best selves.
Yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, and hormone regulation. Repeated postures on each side of the body slows brain activity, syncing the hemispheres and moving us into a calmer state. Cortisol reduces and natural chemicals release to relieve chronic inflammation and restore physiological systems. Deep stretches reduce tension and strain. As body awareness increases, we shift from thinking and doing to feeling and being.
Our minds can be considered in parts: basic survival instincts and drives such as securing shelter, nourishment, and human connection (stress responses like fight or flight also live here), while the discerning mind makes informed decisions. For instance, when hungry (basic drive), the discerning mind chooses salad instead of nachos.
The mind also holds defenses. Any trauma (we all have some) leaves us with a broken sense of trust (and other symptoms). They are useful defenses but can also work against us as distrust distances us from those who love us. Human connection is vital to our health.
When the mind holds tension so does the body, often below our conscious awareness. It settles in like a subtle fog that we don’t realize is there but that disrupts our sleep, concentration, and affects our relationships with a subtle anxiety.
Balancing postures sharpen concentration while long holds tone the nervous system, inducing a clearer and calmer state, on and off the mat. Over time we react less to life’s challenges and trust ourselves more.
While physical injury and psychological trauma are obvious blocks to vitality, society goes against our basic instincts with food we can’t trust, a culture of fear, alarm clocks, too much work, and more. Our lifestyles demand constant output, but we are not static beings. Our bodies fatigue as we push through all seasons as though they are the same, losing alignment with the natural rhythms of our body and the planet, dampening our spiritual connection.
Yoga means union and is a spiritual practice at its core. This union is between you and whatever you connect with. For me, it is my intuitive self. You do not need to believe in traditional concepts of God to practice yoga.
While it’s unlikely that we can eat clean all of the time or take winters off, we can return to a healthier and more natural state as we address environmental stressors and psychological tensions through yoga. Beyond a workout, yoga instills a sense of peace, calm, strength, and confidence as we become more aligned at all layers of self. Our bodies improve and so do our minds, relationships, and the bigger picture of our lives.
Stephanie Toler hosts yoga retreats regularly in Marshall, NC. Check out her retreat packages at www.yoginistephanie.com. She also keeps a blog where she shares poetry and essays about yoga philosophy, spirituality, and life lessons at www.stephaniesfaith.com.
*Note* At the time I wrote this, I was in a very internally focused state and wrote this from the perspective of yoga as an internal practice. However, if I could give this article another go and had a higher word limit, I would include a section on heart. Yoga nourishes us: body, mind, HEART, and spirit. Not only is the practice itself heart-opening, but the connections I’ve made through yoga make up the bulk of my friendships and I am forever grateful for my yogi tribe.
I demanded of the heavens above,
“Tell me, how do I live in your love?
When something still exists in me,
That wants to build walls in between.”
The answer came, pure and true
“Look around for what to do.”
And so I asked the tumbling stream,
“How can I let this love be seen?”
“Go with the flow, but look around,
You can still be solid, like the ground.”
I looked to the earth and heard her say,
“I give my fruits freely, day after day.”
To the trees I said, “Your roots are shared.”
“Not only that, but we clear the air.”
Creatures abound, wild and free
Whispered for me to simply be me.
I still wasn’t sure that was enough,
To which they replied, “You’re already love.”
I looked to the heavens, “It shouldn’t be long,
Until I’m sweetly sharing your song.
“Your love is the joy that courses through me,
And celebrates life as it truly can be.”