One of my earliest joy filled memories of feeling really present in my body is from my mid teenage years. Today, some 45 years later I can close my eyes and feel a sense of ease and freedom as I recall an easy run I took around the edge of a hay field on my family farm. I can smell the air, feel the warm sun, and celebrate the wholeness I felt from the inside out as my breath, my limbs, my whole being moved across the surface of the earth. It wasn’t a long nor a fast run- but a gentle connecting to myself while receiving support and blessings from the earth and all the elements.
Ten years or so later I was in my mid-twenties and living in New York City. There were about as many residents in my apartment building as there were in my entire Minnesota home town. How I got there is another story. What I will tell you is that shortly after moving to Manhattan a neighbor lady invited me to check out a yoga class she was teaching in Greenwich Village.
Again, like my farm field memory, I can close my eyes today and relax into the sensations of that first ever experience in a yoga studio. The peaceful energy of the space, the picture of the Guru up on the wall. But most important in my body memory is the sense of wonder I felt at connecting to my inner self through doing movement and breathing. I’d never done anything like this before. The whole thing felt exotic and other worldly. And, I was astounded at how I was invited into a deep experience of my own body. Reaching to the sky- taking as much space up as I could, coming down to the floor over my folded leg- oh, the joy of sensation in the moment!
Saying yes to that first yoga class was an important act of self-care. It was an encouraging step on a journey of transformation that continues today.
DISCOVERING PHOENIX RISING
Living in NYC comes with challenges and unique stressors- noise and air pollution, constant contact with fellow humans, trying to pay the rent, walking on concrete every day and always more, More, MORE of everything!
In the late 80’s I heard about a yoga retreat center in western Massachusetts- it’s now known as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. It was at Kripalu where I went to a demonstration workshop of a technique (now) called the Phoenix Rising Method. I was eager to try something new and threw my hand up when the man leading the demonstration asked for a volunteer. That man- Michael Lee, the creator of the Phoenix Rising Method had me lay face down on the floor and he took me up into a supported backbend. He did the work and brought me into a delicious stretch- not too much, not too little- and invited me to simply notice what was happening in my body. It was another moment of embodiment that stuck with me.
Twenty some years later I returned to northern Minnesota with a newly earned yoga teaching certificate. One Friday afternoon while I was driving home from teaching a yoga class, I received the tragic news that my older brother Greg had just been killed in a car accident. Some months later it was the gift of a shared insurance settlement from my brother’s estate that allowed me to pursue my interest in re-connecting with Michael Lee through professional yoga therapy training he was offering. I am forever grateful to my brother Greg for the impact he had on my life while he lived and in his passing.
The training I received with Michael continues to enhance my life every day.
WHY IS THE PHOENIX RISING METHOD IMPORTANT TO ME AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Phoenix Rising Method combines movement, body awareness, breath and guided self-inquiry which has resulted in transformation of my own life. It may be a coincidence or just a matter of aging- but while I was deeply involved in my Phoenix Rising training, I entered into what has become the most meaningful relationship of my life. I’ve now been married for almost ten years. And, I am also expressing myself through what I believe is the most important public work I’ve ever done- serving as an elected official.
As a practicing yoga professional, I enjoy keeping up with continuing education while working with private clients and groups. I continue to see transformation happening in the lives of the people I work with. This work has potential healing, personal growth and transformational benefits for all who are willing to give it a try- no previous yoga experience necessary.