I LOVE My Womb (Photo Challenge): Day 1 – Favourite African Goddess

Today’s photo challenge was to post a photo of my favorite African Goddess. Yemaya is the African Orisha Goddess (ruler of the ocean, deep seas, and lakes), that I connect with the most. I don’t know everything about her, AND every time the opportunity for learning more about African Orishas come up, I’m always drawn to Yemaya’s energy.

I believe I connect with Yemaya, off top, because of her association with water. It took a long time for me to get used to water. I mean, I like to drink it and bathe in it, but large masses of water sort of freak me out. That feeling is because, I am not the best swimmer.

I have the worst childhood memories of me vs large bodies of water. For instance, this one time when I was on a field trip (age 5 or 6) at the local YMCA, and instead of the swim instructor LOVINGLY coaching me through my fears of being in the swimming pool (no floaties at all), this fool drops me in the deep part of the pool. You know that saying, “sink or swim”? Well, I sunk. I didn’t put up a fight to even try to swim. I literally gave in to the water.

Another time, (around the age of 7 to 9), I was at the beach with a family friend. The day was beautiful, partly sunny, and full of all the sandcastles I could make, because, I WAS NOT GOING NEAR THE OCEAN. Playing along the shore, I also watched how other kids, and just people in general, were fearlessly enjoying the ocean, I mean all the way up to their waists. And to me, that was unheard of, because once again, I WAS NOT GOING NEAR THE OCEAN.

Bravery, started to settle in, because I wanted to experience the same joy THOSE people were feeling in the ocean. I put my  little blue pail aside, and began to walk towards the shoreline. Water hitting right at my toes, I went in a little further. Water hitting right at my ankles, I went in a little bit more. Water hitting right at my knees, and I’m starting to feel myself a lil’ bit… so much, that I turned my back to the ocean and stepped in further, and now the water is hitting right at the middle of my thighs.

I turned around to look at everyone playing in the ocean, who is now behind me, and fear automatically sets in. The biggest wave I’ve ever seen is rising high, and it looks like it’s about to swallow me. I try to run, but as the tide is moving me back and forth, my feet loses it’s grip because guess what? I’m standing on a sand bar!

So when I come back to consciousness on the shore, all I can remember is a big ass wave swallowing me, taking me deep into the ocean, and throwing me back on the shore. Talk about NEVER EVER wanting to get near an ocean again, that was me!

So now, being grown and conquering some fears associated with water, I’m not so afraid.

I said all of that to say, my experiences with water has played a major role in my life, by cleansing (physical and spiritual) and, ritual healing and offering. The representation of Yemaya and water, could have been a mini rites of passage for my role as the person I am today, a mother, a nurturer, empathic, a healer, etc…

For me, I connect with Yemaya because of her associations with the number 7, spirituality, moonstone, clear quartz, turquoise, sandalwood, and cowrie shells (all of my favorite things). And although, I may have had a traumatic experience with what Yemaya is the ruler of, being in tune with her energy gives me comfort, healing, and understanding to the wombman I am, and becoming.

She is water, she is magic, she is healing, she is Mama Watta!

My intention for the remainder of the #ILOVEMYWOMB photo challenge is to bring Yemaya into my morning meditations.

To get in on this awe-inspiring and fun journey of womb healing and awareness, follow along and participate each day for the next 30 days, of the #ILOVEMYWOMBPHOTOCHALLENGE (@ILOVEMYWOMB).

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The Buddha Spotlight: RYT & Holistic Health Practitioner – Dana A. Smith (Pt. 1)

 

 

Dana A. Smith SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

Dana A. Smith
SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

Namaste ya’ll!

The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Certified Yoga Teacher (RYT), Holistic Health Practitioner, Intuitive Counselor, and Author of Yes, Yoga Has Curves, Dana A. Smith.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  Why did you decide to open a yoga studio?

Dana A. Smith:  I was inspired to open a yoga studio after I had outgrown teaching in my home. I wanted to reach more people but couldn’t do it out of the basement of my home. I set the intention to have a space that would better allow me to serve my community and through a string of miracles I was able to open my studio in 2008.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  Explain Jiivana Yoga.

Dana: Jiivana Yoga (pronounced Jee-Vah-Nah) is actually a style of yoga created by me. I’ve experienced many wonderful styles of yoga and found that there were pieces of each that really resonated with me. I had been facilitating yoga teacher training for 4 years and realized that in order for me to teach my trainees in a way that was authentic to me I had to create my own style of yoga. My yoga practice led me to Thai Yoga Massage, which led me to Reiki, which led me to Life Coaching. All of these modalities allowed me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically and I wanted my trainees and my students to experience something similar. I didn’t want them to rely solely on coming to class to heal or even coming in for a Thai Massage or Reiki treatment. I wanted to teach others how to create a strong foundation to grow and feel empowered by what they were learning. For me yoga is life and I searched for a Sanskrit word that translated Life and Jiivana was that. I went further to break the word Life into an acronym – Living Inspired and Fearless Everyday. My belief is that we should be inspired in life. The things around us should inspire us, motivate us. We should be courage enough to release fear (f.alse e.vidence a.ppearing r.eal) and flow in light everyday.

Dana A. Smith SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

Dana A. Smith
SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

 

Goddess Mena Love:   Do you find it hard to expose yoga to African Americans?

Dana:  I wouldn’t say it is hard but in some instances it has taken a lot of work to dispel the myths and educate on what yoga is and what it isn’t.

 

Goddess Mena Love:   What advice can you give to people who are afraid to integrate yoga with their current belief system or religion?

Dana:  My advice would be for them to let go of fear and lean what the true essence of yoga is. Yoga is a healthy system designed to align mind, body and spirit. It isn’t reliant on any religion or belief outside of you believing that you have the power to shift your life for the better. Education is key! Most people new to yoga have not idea of what it is and how it can help them. Giving them the history and purpose of yoga goes a long way in making others feel comfortable in practicing.

 

Goddess Mena Love:   Do you have any tips on yoga and fertility?

Dana:  The key to yoga and fertility is balancing the sacral chakra (home of the womb) and the heart chakra (the true brain). The mind is also a powerful thing and as the quote above states you have to believe it (that you are fertile, supple and a vehicle for life) in order for it to be so. I’ve worked with quite a few wonderful women who were getting over womb issues and infertility issues. I always have them to start out with forgiveness exercises (for self) and then advise them on ways to balance the sacral chakra.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  Finish this statement.  Yoga gives me access to…..

Dana: Yoga gives me access to my unconditional joy.

Dana A. Smith SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

Dana A. Smith
SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

 

Goddess Mena Love:  What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?

Dana:  I learned that people are much stronger than they give themselves credit for! I also learned that I can be a positive force to facilitate change in others.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  Can you explain Thai Yoga Bodywork and the benefits?

Dana: Thai Yoga Bodywork (also known as Thai Yoga Massage) is an ancient form of therapeutic healing. It combines acupressure, energy balancing, stretching, and yoga asanas. There many are benefits of Thai Massage. It increase flexibility, range of motion and energy level.

Dana A. Smith SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

Dana A. Smith
SpiritualEssenceYoga.com

 

Goddess Mena Love:   You have a variety of ongoing workshops at Spiritual Essence Yoga, with so much to learn and teach, how do you decide what workshops to provide?

Dana:  I base my workshops on what my students say they need. I love to talk to my students and see how their practice is coming along and what is going on in their lives.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life?

Dana:  Changing my diet from a mostly processed to clean eating really changed my spiritual health. Eating healthy allows me to be more at ease and helps to increase my energy.

 

Goddess Mena Love:  What’s your favorite song/movie? What kind of music are you listening to right now?

Dana:  My favorite movie is actually the Color Purple. The story of struggle, perseverance and forgiveness is powerful to me. Fela Kuti is on heavy rotation on my iPod. The songs sing to my soul deeply.

 

 

 

© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

The Buddha Spotlight: Educator & Yoga Instructor – HawaH (Pt. 1)

The Buddha Spotlight introduces Hawah

 

HawaH Evolutionary.net YogaNepal.com

HawaH
Evolutionary.net
YogaNepal.com

HawaH is an artist, author, educator, yoga teacher and community organizer. In the year 2000, he co-founded One Common Unity, a non-profit organization that inspires a culture of non-violence through arts, media and music. He has released four books, two musical CD’s, and produced three documentary films. His fourth book, The Poetry Of Yoga, is a 2 volume anthology set featuring the writing of 300 yogi poets from 19 different countries and contain special forewords from Shiva Rea and Sharon Gannon. You can join him on his 2014 international yoga retreat and Buddhist pilgrimage to Nepal by visiting www.YogaNepal.com.

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Tell me about the retreat you’re apart of in Nepal.

(A) HawaH: This retreat in Nepal is a pilgrimage to some of the most breathtaking, beautiful monasteries that you’ll find in all of Asia. The scenery is majestic with the tops of the temples literally scraping the clouds. The pilgrimage will include morning and evening asana and meditation classes with me (approx. 3 to 4 hours a day). More exciting though is we’ll have audiences and direct teachings from Tibetan Buddhist masters, learning about this remarkable branch of Buddhism.  People from all over the world are signing up for the retreat (we only have 6 spots left—-it’s capped at 16 people), and this is my second time teaching yoga in Nepal. My friend Marty Kravitz is the organizer and she’s been living in Nepal for many years, and brings in different teachers every year for yoga “Nepal”.  I’ve personally been to Nepal 3 times in my life and India more than a dozen. My first time in Nepal, I did the Mt. Everest Base camp trek. It was an extraordinary, once in a lifetime journey.

(A) Goddess Mena Love: Is this retreat for all levels?

(B) HawaH: It’s for people that have been practicing some form of asana. You don’t need any Tibetan Buddhism background at all. This is a great introduction to Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. The yoga portion does require you to have at least six months of asana practice, so that you’re familiar with basic poses such as, downward dog, up dog, and warrior one. You also have to be in enough physical condition to where you’ll feel comfortable hiking a bit at high altitudes.

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: When is the yoga retreat to Nepal?

(A) HawaH: The retreat is October 27 – November 7, 2014.

HawaH YogaNepal.com

HawaH
YogaNepal.com

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Where can people get more information about this yoga pilgrimage to Nepal?

(A) HawaH: www.YogaNepal.com and on the home page you’ll see my retreat called, “Awakening to Freedom.” If you decide to come, we’ll be picking you up from the airport!

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What style of yoga do you practice?

(A) HawaH: I was initially trained and certified in Sivananda over 10 years ago, which was my first deep immersion. My second certification is in Jivamukti yoga; in addition to that I’ve been training and studying for close to 15 years now. I’m versatile, the other styles of yoga that I incorporate in my teaching practice are a little bit of ashtanga, iyengar, and vinyasa flow.

 

HawaH Evolutuonary.net

HawaH
Evolutuonary.net

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What is the best thing about teaching yoga?

(A) HawaH: The best thing about teaching yoga is that I’m never teaching yoga. Yoga, to me, is more of an exchange, it’s interaction with other spiritually inclined, and motivated individuals who desire to penetrate into deeper levels of consciousness and awareness. For me, every time I step into the classroom, I don’t consider myself a teacher. I consider myself a tour guide, guiding you through the natural flow of movements with breath. Some people might view me as a teacher, but I don’t see myself as a teacher. I see myself like a partner in this journey with you.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: When did you fall in LOVE with yoga?

(A) HawaH: Yoga, in the philosophical and Bhakti sense, has been apart of my life since birth. My mom is a Bhakti yogi, meaning she practices prayer, devotion, and chanting for hours every day. She’s been doing that for as far as I can remember.  When I was growing up as a child, I was frequently taken to India, which exposed me to many of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and Vedas. My uncle who resides in India now is a revered Swami. So, from a young age, I was exposed to his teachings, as well. In that sense, I think yoga is just apart of my blood. I think in another sense, yoga, as we know it as asana, is something that I kind of came around to in 1999 or 2000.  These were pivotal years; I was first introduced to asana practice by my friend Terence Ollivierra.

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What is your daily spiritual practice?

(A) HawaH: I give thanks and gratitude, which is the anchor to everything that provides me joy and happiness. Before every meal, just stopping for a few minutes, closing my eyes and saying a silent wish for an end to suffering. I spend about 1 – 2 hours a day in my meditation and yoga room sometimes just staring at a candle. Working with kids is also another spiritual practice for me, and probably the compass to all of the above.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Do you have advice for anyone interested in starting a daily meditation routine?

(A) HawaH: Yes! It’s a 5 letter word, “S-T-A-R-T”, start! It’s one of my favorite words in the English language. Sit down and close your eyes for 5 minutes a day. I can give you all these tools, but it’s all meaningless until you just sit down on your mat (or cushion), close your eyes and just see what comes up, watch, and observe. I would start right there! Take time out of your day to make time for yourself, and until you start that process it is all just procrastination. Once you start creating that time for yourself, there’s no wrong way, as long as you’re exploring and curious. A curious mind… is the best mind to have. Also, find teachers that you gravitate toward. Zone in on what kind of practice you’re into: a Bhakti practice, or a sitting meditation practice. Are you more drawn to an asana practice? It’s not all asana, in the West — yoga has been diminished and reduced to these hot yoga classes that are a real small fraction to what different paths people are on to attain a deeper spiritual realization.

HawaH YogaNepal.com

HawaH
YogaNepal.com

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: You mentioned being born in this type of lifestyle, but what was the turning point for you to get started with your existing spiritual way of life?

(A) HawaH:  By getting on the mat everyday my life was transforming, and changing rapidly in a positive way. I was more calm and happy. I found a deeper level of contentment, less stress and anxiety, and found myself becoming more focused and creative. Sometimes I was amazed that I could do the same amount of work that use to take me four hours to, now in one hour! That was really powerful to me! I was witnessing one hour a day of my meditation and seeing results that it actually allowed me to accomplish so much more! All of those things contributed to my commitment to being disciplined in my practice.

 

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Are you a vegetarian? Have you been a vegetarian all of your life?

(A) HawaH: I personally don’t like labels, but yet I would consider myself extremely close to a vegetarian.  I was brought up in a vegetarian household. The first time I had meat was probably in 6th grade. I remember the first time I ate Ham, and I had no idea what it even really was.  But we were at a weekend camp on a school trip and everyone else was eating it for breakfast in the morning and so I figured I should just give it a try to (partly at that time to fit in)… I started eating meat regularly around that time, not in the house, only at school, because of the lack of variety in school lunches. I continued to eat meat through college, until my junior year. This is a loooong story, but let’s just say that I was face to face with a chicken while in Vietnam, staring at her in the eyes, and I couldn’t bring myself to actually kill it. I had the knife in my hand, in a small hut staying with a family on the Mekong Delta, and they gave me the knife as an honor to kill the animal.  I froze there with them around me and was like, “Oh my God, what do I do!” I was scared, and didn’t kill the chicken that day, and never ate a land animal again ever since. It wasn’t because of what I learned about the environment, and how much better it is for world hunger, not because of exercise or hormones, it was because I couldn’t consciously bring myself to eat something I wasn’t willing to kill with my own two hands.

© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved

 

My Spirit Animal: The Hummingbird

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Ever since I re-posted a post from Raising Ecstasy’s page on Facebook, I’ve been so drawn to hummingbirds. Of course, immediately I was attracted to the phrase, “Ride the energy of your own unique spirit”, but the flock of birds and one colorful, free bird flying alone inspired my next tattoo! I so resonate with the lone hummingbird in the pic! Being drawn to the hummingbird as a spirit animal guide naturally ignited the research of spiritual meanings of hummingbirds.

Spiritual Meanings & How It Relates To Me

The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being.” Wow, on my spiritual journey and recent outlook on life, enjoying my life is at the top of the list forever and ever! Learning to not take things so seriously, self-sabotaging; getting out of my own way, ebbing and flowing with the universe, asking, believing, and receiving all that I desire in life has definitely made me feel lighter! No fear, no worries! All LOVE!

Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in their daily endeavors.” With being deep in day 3 of the “May Cause Miracles ” 40 day self-improvement journey, instead of reacting to negativity, which is illusionary (FEAR), I’m learning to see all things, all situations, all people with the lens of LOVE. Witnessing all that I’m afraid of and confronting it with LOVE is all that I’m vibrating at this point in my life. This hummingbird comes right on time for me, another reminder to express LOVE fully!

“By affinity with the hummingbird, those who have this bird as totem may be encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.” I’ve always been a person who can adapt to change easily, adapt to life’s hiccups, and with ease, grow out of my lessons with insight, stronger and wiser. I’ve been through so many emotionally traumatic situations, I’ve learned that ultimately I create every situation in my life, positive or negative. If I thought it, focused on it, gave it much energy, the universe definitely gave it back! Now, I drown myself in positive affirmations. I have no choice but to look at life optimistically! No one else can keep me miracle-minded better than me, and I don’t expect anyone to!

The hummingbird generally symbolizes joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability. Additional symbolic meanings are:

  • Lightness of being, enjoyment of life
  • Being more present
  • Independence
  • Bringing playfulness and joy in your life
  • Lifting up negativity
  • Swiftness, ability to respond quickly
  • Resiliency, being able to travel great distances tirelessly

If the hummingbird shows up in your life as a spirit animal, it may remind you to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and take time to enjoy yourself. The hummingbird’s wisdom carries an invitation to take part in and draw to you life’s sweetness, like you would drink the nectar of your own flowerThe call of the hummingbird totem will guide you to open up to love and lightness in your emotional life. When you see your totem, you are encouraged to open up your heart and expose yourself more to joy and love. It might be time to show how you feel to loved ones or people who are close to you. ” So right on time for me! Yes, I practice showing LOVE to LOVED ones, but honestly not enough! I’m also working on showing more LOVE to those who are not in my immediate circle. LIGHT & LOVE to all, I mean that from the heart. Yes, I am willing to see everything I encounter differently! Yes, I am willing to see LOVE! I want LOVE to vibrate in every atom in my body!

How to Use The Hummingbird Spirit Guide to Lift Up Negativity

The spirit of the hummingbird is a powerful mean to lighten up your mood when you feel down. This power animal is a useful ally to lift you up and instill more joy and playfulness in your daily grind. When facing challenges or an environment plagued by negativity, call on the hummingbird to help you bring a positive outlook on the situation and find your way out with optimism.” And this is exactly why I need the hummingbird to be my next tattoo! I’ll post pics when I get it!

http://www.spiritanimal.info/hummingbird-spirit-animal/