Girl talk/stillness/ramblings

 

In our society we value the ability to get over things quickly. When something bad happens we immediately say, no it’s ok, don’t worry about me. Especially women (men, I believe aren’t even asked about what is wrong or allowed to go into it. Some don’t want to. I do not understand exactly why, though I can conjecture. While I think that some of this truly is personal preference regarding the way we all deal with trauma and grief differently, there is certainly also a societal standard put on men that is well documented and noted by many.) I have had countless conversations with friends who have expressed frustration with parents and loved ones who want to find the solution so quickly that they forget to take a moment to honour the grief and pain that resides within traumatic experiences. I also like to just get through it, and get to the other side

For me, when I am PMSing, the frustration and grief can become overwhelming. It can make even the slightest imposition or snarky remark feel deeply personal and unpleasant. So, frustrating. Magnesium supplements, I have found, have helped me to chill out a bit with those feelings. I have also tried anti-depressants at times, the right does of the right medication I found did wonders for me when I needed to no longer feel like the world was coming to an end. No matter how much a cajoled myself, be still, Ego, my love, be still. I love you. It is ok, it isn’t just about you. Take a breath, we are going to be ok. Usually this time is evident because of these feelings, double check the calendar and here we are, about four days to go. These are the moments when our practice is tested and utilised, right? The moments when we call upon our strongest highest selves to surmount all the negativity and frustration. But, this week has been one where glazing over the pain and just moving on never seemed to work. Everything went wrong or felt wrong. But, maybe that is actually just right.

After an insane morning that I don’t need to describe because I am sure that you have had one of those mornings where nothing goes right: the dog eats your homework for real. I couldn’t even settle into my own practice. But,I pushed through a practice anyway, mostly floating on the edges of each asana, managed to sit still through a minute of savasana before the devoirs (must dos) pulled me away and back to “adulting.” After putting out a few domestic fires in the afternoon and deciding not to push myself to my physical or emotional limits, I made my way home and decided today I needed to have no where to be.

Finding some quiet space, I gave over to the sounds of youtube in hopes of having someone else lead me into a more fulfilling somatic experience. The barre class began well for me. I got warm, moved, found my psoas, and then about a third of the way through I paused. I had to sit. Be still. My scar tissue was aflame in my pelvis (not with pain but with feeling). Tears were welling up in my eyes. Be still. And so I was. Being in my pelvis, this juncture I have been trying to “fix” for the past two years now after an attempted robbery turned into an assault on the streets of Casablanca. Be still. And so I was. I found the rivers of connective tissue running around and across my sacrum, rolled the bowl of my pelvis across the earth, shifting its contents first north to south then east to west. Tears still pressing to my eyes. And in this moment there was a sigh, not a complete release, but a sigh. There, now. 

Perhaps this is the reason many women become so sensitive and aware of their frustrations at this time before we bleed. Perhaps this is the moment when we get to let go of all those things that are so pent up inside for so many days. The things we just let slide off our backs, the little trespasses and cruel gestures that we “didn’t let get to us”. This time when everything seems so personal and jarring is a gift. A time to turn in and release. In the same way that in autumn the trees allow their leaves to drop to the earth and are bare, vulnerable and focusing internally we prepare and shed and feel all the raw feelings that didn’t leave with a hopeful exhalation. This is our autumn as women. You are a deciduous beast, and now it is time for you to to prepare to shed what is not needed. So, this dreadful PMS or PMDD, should you be one who experiences such things, can serve you. Can be a time for you to be with you. To take care of you. To cry or rage and scream because things are not ok sometimes. This time is a tool to let go of those poisonous things that threaten you. Use it to your health instead of being fooled into thinking it is a sign of your own weakness.

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Lunar Flow with Shiva Rea

Shiva Rea is such an inspirational yoga teacher. This flow is not too rigorous. It flows with beauty and feels lovely in the hips and heart. My recommendations: make sure you take the time to enjoy the spinal articulation as you roll down to the earth. Be aware of the length of the spine and head/tail connection. Also, when you come up in cobra, it is probably best to keep your elbows slightly bent. She straightens hers at the peak of cobra, be safe. Listen to your body. 🙂 Breathe and enjoy!

 

This Saturday! AcroYoga Jam in Casablanca

AcroYogab

I am so excited and honored to host the first AcroYoga JAM in Casablanca, Morocco!!!!! The Jam is fully booked, but I can’t wait to share with you the outcome of our event! We are planning to hold the second Jam in November. More information on that to come. Here is the link to the event page. I want to extend a special thank you to Melinda Erickson and Nada Mehdi of Yogablanca as well as Jerome Famechon for making this event possible. Let’s continue to build the community through connection and play! The class will be in French primarily and also translated into English, hopefully in Arabic too soon. Click here for more information concerning AcroYoga! Wow this is the hyper link post of hyper link posts lol.

Also, happy Islamic New Year! Hope you folks in Casa enjoyed your day off, you deserve it.

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma

Tales of a Yogini in the kitchen: Lentil and Chickpea Couscous

12064303_771094533497_652323457_nLentil and Chickpea Coucous 

Moroccan Couscous takes a lot of time to make. First of all, it is steamed over the veggies and meat, and loosened with water and oil by hand a few times over. The result is a light and fluffy meal with really rich meat and veggies to go with it. Couscous here is not a side dish, it is a main dish. I was asked once in a Moroccan restaurant in the USA if I wanted rice or couscous with my Tagine. These are completely separate dishes in my experience. My Moroccan hubby requests this dish. I found the basis of the recipe on Yoga Journal by an editor. I have made a few additions and tweaks to make it closer to what I have experienced of Moroccan tradition and taste. I love this recipe because it is tasty, filling, Vegetarian and SUPER healthy. My hubby doesn’t like the mint on it, but I do. I highly recommend pairing this with Moroccan mint tea.

This dish isn’t served in a glass tea cup, I just did that in the pict to show the layers.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided OR 1 smen bullion cube in 2 ¾ cups water.*
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 12-oz. jar chunky medium salsa or picante sauce
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1  tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup) – also good with other veggies
  • 1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained or 1 cup soaked and cooked chickpeas, boiled until just tender…on the harder side of cooked.
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint (optional)

*I have no idea if this is available in outside of Morocco. Smen is rancid butter and is often put in couscous dishes. It tastes a little cheesey. If you don’t use that you could maybe try sprinkling nutritional yeast over the couscous and lentils with the mint when you serve it. Also, I made this recipe today with zucchini and a mild radish added to the carrots and onion and it was quite good. Play with it and enjoy!

Directions

  1. Bring lentils and 6 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered 15 minutes, or until lentils are just tender.
  2. Bring 1 1/4 cups broth (or water with the smen) and raisins to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat.
  3. Place salsa, cilantro, tomato paste and cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika, and cinnamon in food processor, and purée until smooth.
  4. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until slightly browned, stirring frequently. Add salsa mixture, remaining 1 1/2 cups broth and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Drain lentils and add to chickpea sauce. Thin with additional broth if sauce is too thick.
  6. Place couscous in 6 bowls and top with sauce. Place mint in a bowl on the side and serve.

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma

To my body

which regularly travels three continents, and traverses the diverse cultural constructs found there.

To my body which has been groundlessly shamed, in spite of the protection all loved ones have placed around me.

To my body, which has endured sexual abuse, both above and under the influence, in youth and maturity.

To my body that dances through the madness and heals even as it terembles.

To my body, which has been attacked and battered without provocation, and in spite of my attempts of self defense.

To my body, which I have have abused, and occasionally still do, and hope never to do again. And again. And again.
To my body that practices, sustains, and grows with every breath and cycle.

To my body, that is so much blood and bone, fat and muscle. That is skin and other organs in and out that deal with the world and taking it in.

To my body, and your body, you deserve so much more than destruction.  I hope you know your beauty. I hope you live your strength.


As a yoga teacher and a body worker, I strive at all times to provide my students and clients with a safe space. By the time I came to yoga, at the age of 14, I had already endured sexual abuse. It was my discovery of my body through yoga and dance, and the help of a loving community, that allowed me to move forward. Capoeira was my next step along the path, and was my island of safety during an eating disorder, PTSD, and the process of recovery.

The wound is the place where the light enters you. – Rumi

This evening, I was body shamed, for being “half-naked” in some of my recent yoga pictures. I then deleted almost all of those pictures from Instagram. With the unfaltering support of my partner and husband, and after an emotional conversation with a dear friend in Australia, who pointed out to me I have nothing to be ashamed of, I wrote this and decided to show myself again… Not for pity or approbation, but because I know I’m not alone. I know there are other people who have faced greater obstacles in finding center and over come them. All I can do is bear witness in my life to my struggle and maybe, in doing so, I will affirm the struggle of others.

If my words sound familiar, no matter what your body type, history or status, please know you are not alone. Please know that agency is yours for the taking. Claim your power. Know your beauty. Release pride for a deeper awareness; you are not better because you aren’t someone else, you are amazing because of who you are.

And, now that I have shown you much of my inner self, with words that still terrify me as I submit them to public view, I am finally going to bed. And I am posting some of those pictures I took down. Thanks for reading.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from all suffering. May you share your gifts with the world, and may you know your true self in this lifetime.

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma

Into the desert

I never really thought I would like the desert. I always just assumed it would be a dry, empty, hot place. I love lush green places. I love trees, which is quite evident if you check out my earlier post about AIR Yogalates teacher training. After moving to Morocco, I decided I had to see the Sahara before I left the journeybeginscountry. Just so I could have done it, you know, bucket list style. The opportunity to visit the desert came this year with my friends, Ashley and Kris. They came to visit me in Morocco on a grand tour of Europe. We spent a few days in Casablanca, then we took off to Marrakech. Where we relaxed, ate, shopped, haggled, drank oj, got henna done in that order 😉 . Now, for those of you know doIMG_4502n’t know, Marrakech this time of year is HOT. The Sahara is also HOT. I was told several times that this plan was a little crazy. Especially since it is Ramadan, but who knows when my peeps will get back to Morocco. We spent the night in a Riad. Mine was Riad Khol which was an absolutely beautiful. The modern Moroccan twist on décor, the friendly staff, and the icy pool water were so refreshing coming in from the streets of the Souk. I love seeing my friends faces light up the first time that they see the Jmal el fna for the first time.IMG_4508 The lights, the sounds, the call to prayer hanging on the wind. This is the magic of the Medina in Marrakech. The next morning, we woke up super early to meet with Khaled, our guide from Sahara Services. The tour was expensive for Morocco, but I will say I think I got my money’s worth, and happily reccomend the investment.  Check out http://saharaservices.info/product/sahara-highlights/ if you are interested. In order to get to the Sahara, you have to cross the high Atlas Mountains, the anti-Atlas Mountains, and then quite a bit of terrain before you arrive the dunes. In the High Atlas Mountains there can be snow, pine tress, and thunder storms. The road is one of the most dangerous in the world, but is it ever amazing. 1

Once we arrived in the desert, I was struck by the peace and wonder I experienced. I had not anticipated falling in love with a dry, hot, sandy expanse of land, but there is so there to be experienced. We all felt totally peaceful, calm, and amazed. Camels moved acorss the land as their owners, nomads to this day, search for good grazing land. Donkeys, which I never found particularly attractive before, have a certain charm on the dunes. Mice with long tails scurry around at night. We saw sand storms, then lightning and rain, then sand storms again. We played music with our guides and I learned some words in Berber. We learned how to dance Desert berber style and were up until two in the morning with our guides, who mostly grew up as nomads in the region. IMG_4748

Nomad family in the desert

Nomad family in the desert

For the first time in my life I saw what must have been the milkey way with the naked eye. I slept beneath the stars until a gust of wind blew my pillow from under me as I changed positions. Yes, I chased after my pillow in the middle of the night in the Sahara. Our guides laughed at that one for a while the next morning. I learned how to tie a turban. We met a nomad family and I played hide and go seek and did down dog with the kiddos.

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma

*Vinyasa Yoga * Aerial Yoga * Acro Yoga JAMbassador * Dance * Therapeutic Massage* World Music * Capoeira*

AIR Yogalates Teacher Training

swingWhen I was ten, I mastered the art of climbing my tree. It was a huge Norway Maple outside of my house, and although I understood that Norway Maples are an invasive species and can take root in the most undesirable of places and empeche (I know I can’t remember the word in English) the growth of the native species, I loved that tree and sobbed three years later when it had to be cut down.(As my mom always points out, the tree was very old and had become quite sick). I spent a lot of time up the tree that summer. I even tied an old piece of parachute rope my dad had from the Navy to an equally old dish drainer and carried the rope up one of the strongest boughs of the tree to make a pulley system. I would find little seats and foot holds feetand figure out the best way to sit so I would rest effortlessly. I brought up books, watched birds nests waiting for the mother bird to return, ate my lunch, generally contemplated the world. I greeted my neighbours as they returned to their homes. I surprised Mrs. Bell who lives across the street to this day, saying hello to her.

“Child, where are you?”

“I’m up here!”

Gasp, “does your mother know you’re up there?”

“I don’t know, she’s at work.”

“Well you be careful, now.”

“I will!”

Half way around the world, I am swinging in a cocoon, back and forth. Eyes shut,
breath is soft. Slowly, the sway swoons and becomes gently serpentine. As cliché as it sounds, I am back in my beloved tree. The same tree that appears in my dreams day and night. I have found a new love. Aerial Yoga.tour1

Or more specifically, AIR Yogalates. This week has been so inspiring. Marie-Michelle Faber and Genevieve Berube, of Cirque du Soleil, have travelled to Morocco to do a teacher training in Air Yogalates. This is a form of Aerial Yoga combines aspects of circus, yoga, pilates, dance, and acrobatics. Hammocks are suspended at knee or hip height. The practitioner works with the forces of gravity, uses the opposition of the body in conjunction with the hammock and moves in and out of poses that provide inversion, extension and flexion of the spine, traction, torsion, strengthening and elongation of the body. The hammock also is placed at specific places on the body to align, support, and activate the meridians on the body. The end of the practice may feel like the end of a deep massage. It can be fun, therapeutic, challenging and restorative all at once.

turtle1I have never worked with silks or hammocks before. (OK, I tried one brief Aerial class last winter, but that was it.) I wasn’t sure how much I would like it, but somewhere between the mat and the sky I hang and twist and stretch in ways that are so exciting. I am on the swing set, playing on a jungle gym and in my tree again all at once. Everyone in the training has had very personal and deep responses to the work. I believe I speak for all of us when I say I can’t wait to provide this to our clients at Om Yoga in Casablanca.

If you get a chance please try Aerial Yoga, even better, AIR Yogalates. It is transformational.fish

Photos by Kenza Laraki, Marie-Michelle Faber and Genevieve Berube, edited by Sahajasoma.