Thursday, November 17, 2016

Yoga As Body Love -- For Sacred Self-Care Women's Well

This practice is for accepting your body in its current shape and moment. 

Connect to your self-worth through a short sequence of shapes and breath that will remind you who you are. This sequence includes postures that open energy lines through the lower chakras and also the channel to the spleen, which when healthy helps us feel more at home in ourselves. The practice of yoga can be a most beneficial practice to aid in feeling what we need to feel and finding the acceptance needed in the present moment to keep going toward our purpose. 

*I apologize for the 3 videos instead of one long one. Unfortunately, this is how they could fit. If you click to view on You Tube, they will play in sequence. 
In part 1, you can fast forward to around 2:20 to jump right into the practice and skip my opening discussion. 

Enjoy and here's to slowing down and loving these forms that take us places and make us who we are!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Nantucket Women's Retreat--June 2016

For the 4th year in a row, I brought a group of women over to Nantucket island for four days of connection through yoga medicine, ocean/island medicine, yummy food, ritual, and fun! This retreat has taken many forms and each year has a different energy, different group and theme. The way things flowed and worked out this year meant that I was flying solo (no co-teacher) to plan, gather food, hold the space, and offer it all up. With that, it worked out that all of the women who came have been long-time yoga students on this path with me. There was no "getting to know you" period since it's been 7+ years of that with each of them! What a joy to be able to get deep and honest with fellow sisters in this life. And to have the most fun and extreme goofball-ness!
I know I will continue to offer this special retreat for Women…and we shall see how life and each year continues to manifest it and bring magic together.
Here's my photo diary from our retreat this past June:

Setting up our altar space. This view from the cottage never gets old!
Everyone got Bryonie Wise's book, Heart Roar, and Kate Bartolotta's book,  Choose Joy! Plus little wrist malas by Clay Twombly
Favorite shop in Nantucket town…with the best chocolate ganache-infused treats and spices/teas! Ambrosia Nantucket. 
Our first dinner together was a picnic! I made homemade veggie burgers, and we had a salad of local strawberries and lettuce! Plus, rose wine. So good. 
Picnic dinner on our first night. Divine. 
View from Yoga everyday. 
First yoga practice! Partner relaxing legs work. 
Dinner out in Nantucket town at Proprietor's! Thumbs up. 
Then, ice cream time!
My five year old would give me bird poses to teach each day…here he is teaching me about Osprey pose.
Perfect weather each day. So lucky!
Awesome afternoon at Steps Beach!
The view from Steps Beach. Magical. 
We had a waning moon just after the full moon. Can you see her faintly above our cottage? It was nice to see her in the mornings. 
Yin Practice in the shade.
Teamwork dinner that we all worked on together. So cozy. 
Hi Steph! Thanks for your magical woman's tea! We miss you!
Our last night, we always do a beach ritual. 
Our found beach object mandala creation infused with our personal prayers and ready for release.
The LOVE I have for these women is beyond. 
Wild rose flower essence soaking in the solar and lunar energies so we can take some of the retreat vibe home with us.

**Stay tuned for next year's Retreat details! There's a solid chance that I'll be offering it in late September next year instead of June. Be in touch via my site for more information. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Early Postnatal Snack Ideas

New Mamas (and friends to New Mamas)!

I'm passionate about sharing the importance of Postnatal support for new mamas in the community or  in my family. The first 3 months, or even 6 months is a huge transition for the mama in her body, her mental and emotional state, her lifestyle...everything. Our culture is not equipped with the same "village" that many other cultures depend on. In America it's often an attitude that the mom feels pressured to be able to do it all on her own. It's less likely that she'll ask for support because well, everyone is so busy, and we all have to fend for ourselves. Wrong! We do have a culture that tends to make us feel like we're not enough and builds our expectations on how things should be as new parents. But, it's simply not the case. We can be there for each other and we can lay our guards aside for a bit to step out of of our "busy" days and help some friends in need. Also, every woman is in a different and unique current cycle in their life when they have a baby. This is another thing to remember when it comes to postpartum healing and needs.

When I teach prenatal yoga and share with my mama community, we talk about ALL of the things. The unspoken topics, the nitty gritty of the body stuff, the transitions in spirit, the baby stuff. It's all worthy of sharing and staying open to all of the options and energies available.
For new moms, typically there are friends and family visiting on/off within the first month of giving birth. Or that's when neighbors bring food by and people are the most helpful. This is necessary. BUT...I urge you to remember your new mama friends in the months after that. This is when they most need you. This is when they might feel forgotten. They are stuck on the couch to nurse a million times a day. They may need help getting out of the house or feeling a bit like themselves again. They may be having a hard time feeding themselves. Or feeling into their bodies again. Especially if breastfeeding...the body is crazy ravenous during this period. Way more than when pregnant! The mama needs good nutrition throughout the day, but often she can't prepare it easily or is too tired/stuck in a certain position holding the baby.
(Mamas, stay gentle with yourselves. You are cared for and loved and you are a superpower of a being simply by caring for your baby or babies and showing up for them each and every day. Nothing else matters, and though hard to remember...the time WILL go faster than you think.)

My advice? Bring your new mama goddess easy snacks or help her grocery shop for them. Don't comment on how she looks or ask about sleep. Ask her how she's feeling about her current moment, or if there's a great podcast to listen to, or something fun to watch, or ask how she feels as a mom. Ask her what she needs. Love up the baby and give her time to eat or go to the bathroom. Listen. Be compassionate and loving and remind her that every new mama has their something. Their thing about their body that changed. Their thing about their lifestyle that has changed, or their job or their relationships. Every single new mama has a thing. Don't forget it.

Anyway, new mamas, I love you. I remember. And at 18 months postnatal after my second...I still struggle sometimes to feed myself well and to find moments of real self-care. We all struggle with the balance and the overwhelm. If you hear a mom say she doesn't or you see her perfect instagram's some smoke and it's not real life. We all have meltdowns. We have binge-watching days. We all eat too many cookies sometimes. We all get angry and yell at our kids or our partners or ourselves. And we're all doing great. We are. You are. If you're reading this, you care and that caring is where the love moves out of your mind and into your heart.


My go-to snack ideas for throughout the day when you're a new mama or have little ones and not much time to cook:

(my favorite go-to is made with ice, frozen blueberries, frozen greens of choice, banana, spoon of nut butter, hemp powder, cacao powder, chia seeds, spoon of local honey, and then combo of water or coconut water with your milk of choice (I usually do either full fat coconut milk or a nut milk of choice).

quinoa is fast to cook (around 15 minutes once brought to a boil) and full of protein and nutrition. Once it's cooked, I add a bunch of olive oil, salt and pepper, some za'tar spice. Then whatever you have around. Some days I add sunflower seeds or pine nuts, some avocado, some greens, or dried fruit. Whatever floats your boat.

-Icelandic yogurt (if you're eating dairy)
my favorite kind is Icelandic, but it could be Greek or other protein-rich yogurt or kefir. I like the Smari organic brand. Siggi's is pretty good. Look for what you can find.

-granola with low sugar and healthy nuts. I love the Purely Elizabeth brand and there are some other local brands I get at my local health store. When I have time, I might make my own...but hey, I'm over a year don't push it, mamas.
Easy to throw any granola in a bowl with your favorite milk to munch.
Trail Mix is also a good choice.

-Rice cakes or Toast with any of these toppings are my go-to's:
nut butter and banana
butter, cheese and jam (Icelandic style)
olive oil, avocado and spices
hummus or other spread
goat cheese

-cheese and crackers of choice
you can get gluten-free crackers if needed, or non-dairy cheese or whatever works

-hard boiled eggs
A bit easier to manage as an egg-eater...I eat them with salt and pepper and other spices, or on toast. That said, I'm more of a scrambled eggs fan and if you get the chance, you can get fancy and create a yummy eggs, greens, cheese combo for nourishment. This is sometimes my mid-morning meal...or brunch.

-beef jerky or other meat sticks if you're a meat eater. Pre-made chicken every now and then might not hurt, if you need meat. Bone broth to make easy soups with.

-sweet potatoes
throw in oven at high heat for at least 30-40 minutes and then you can top with whatever you want. Butter, coconut oil, olive oil, nut butters, hummus, spices...endless options.

when nursing, I crave sweets like nothing else. It's nuts. But I make sure to have all the good dark chocolate around. My favorite brand is Theo Chocolate. A nice daily treat.
Also, Apotheker's mallows and chocolate bars make me feel healthy eating them to some extent. Super yummy.

-herbal teas and tinctures
there are bountiful herbal concoctions you can use as a new mama that might be of the right physical or emotional support for you. I use flower essences daily, and drink teas with minerals that will build my blood and immune system to be of proper health. You can refer to my gal, Steph, for more information, among other wonderful herbalists in your area.
A favorite tea blend safe for new mamas includes: nettles, tulsi, and rose.

There ya have it. Some of my favorite go-to eats as a busy, breast-feeding mama who is always hungry and eating. ;) I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Here are some other resources for you:

**My awesome friend, Michelle, has started something on FB called 1 Meal Mom Community. For tips on how to feed your family. She's inspiring and real and her website and energy might be just the insight you need.

**My other friend, Mischa, also just posted a wonderful blog post with other great snack ideas. She's an herbalist, doula and compassionate woman and this was a great find of the moment for more new mama snack ideas!

Finally, if you're a new mama or know of one looking for postnatal support, please don't hesitate to be in touch. I'd love to share or connect you to the right resources as needed.
I also host a sometimes monthly meet up out of my home that I call Yoga for Mamas. I offer yoga (without your baby present) to reconnect to yourself, and then we drink tea and eat yummy things while we talk about stuff.
I'm hosting a Women's Urban (4 hour) Retreat at Borealis Yoga in May... and the annual
Women's (4 day) Retreat to Nantucket in June. In case you're a mama who can get away either time for some connection and self-care.
Info on my website or on social media.

Big Love.

Gus and I between 2-3 months postpartum.
Photo copyright Cara Brostrom. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

On popularity and vulnerability, as a yogini in 2016...Virgo Full Moon reflection

I've noticed over the last few weeks that many of my peers and friends have been wanting to discuss social media, branding, marketing themselves...the do's and don'ts of it all. For me, this brings up the themes of vulnerability and popularity. This discussion seems to come around every few months, actually. It must be a very relevant theme for those of us that are yoga teachers or artists or writers (freelancer-independent contractors--insert your field here). In this time we are living in with social media, and with so many people out there who have marketing prowess for prolific content, it can be so challenging to strike the right balance of what's true (authenticity) to what will get people to see your truth (marketing). There ARE many who have been able to do both in lovely ways, but typically there tends to be much more image projecting in order to share valuable words. Meaning, it takes an image for the majority of people to read the words. I've been doing my own silent research in this area...and have found that yes, it's true that more people will "like" my posts if there's an image of a smiling me in a nice posture, or of my cute toddler in a close up. This can break my confidence at times and make me want to quit it all, but then I realize those images and things uplift people to see in these strange times...and it's not always a bad thing that those images get more attention. This doesn't mean I've been sharing more or less of those things, necessarily. I'm trying to share what's current, in real time, in my life, and sometimes that resonates to people while other times not. However, I realize that perhaps I could have better strategy and post more images that people want to see. Or not. Oy. Who's noticing? What we feel about it comes purely from within and the pressures and ego we put on ourselves to aim for what we think is success. Maybe I have people gently nudge me to do more with my image and brand, but it's me who has to be at ease with it all in the end. 

You see, I believe in every bit of what Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame have uncovered. And in learning more about it over the last 4-5 years…plus studying with my teacher, Elena Brower, it’s been part of my mission as an individual and as a yoga teacher to stay honest, and to stay in my vulnerability. This is so very hard in our culture at times, but it’s completely shaped my life in a new way. I think (well, I've had some nice feedback) it’s been helping others when I share in this way…though I’m certainly not “popular" in doing so. 
I truly believe that once the majority of humans can learn to embrace vulnerability as a strength and necessity towards more love, then the Earth will finally start healing again. For me, the way there is through getting connected and in rhythm with the natural cycles (both external and internal). But if you “follow” me, you know that and I’ll leave it at that. 

You see I’ve never been “popular." Nope. Not in my school years and not now. I’ve always been somewhere in between. Able to stride the lines of friendships with the introverts AND the extroverts…because hey, I’m actually a little of both. Which has its own awkward qualities and has always had me just “weird” enough to our society’s standards that I never quite make the “hip” list. 
A couple of years after I began teaching yoga in Boston, I started desiring to be a more popular teacher because I thought that was what success looked like. We are projected that idea so much. It seemed like everyone else was doing it and that was how I’d achieve x, y, z to be able to host retreats and do the things I craved. Plus, the popularity and increase in this field of yoga has brought about that want and need in all yoga teachers to stay consistent on social media, with websites, photoshoots, cool gigs, and so on…in order to get students, jobs, etc. 
But, the more I evolved to my truth, I saw students come and go. Some wanted to keep me in a pretty little box and others stuck with me. And I realized this was going to be the path and always has been. Basically I’m not the type to agree to teach a certain way in order to get bodies in a room…but that’s a whole other (though related) topic for another time.
You see, I could go ahead and only ever post perfect professional photos to social media. Ones that stuck to yoga and showcased my practice. Or maybe if I stuck to just motherhood and yoga. Or just women’s yoga. Or just my moon insights. Maybe that focused and neatly artistic presentation would get me to 1,000 followers, finally. Maybe I’d sell out my retreats faster or get more people interested in these ideas that I’m passionate about. I see that that is how to do it. I know there are tactics and tools I could be using to achieve this and be in the popular crowd. Or what if I simply taught more classes a week, or got myself into some more well-known studios. What if I had only signed up for B-school with Marie Forleo (or insert any other popular self-help/business school for the spiritual folks). Or if only I got myself in Mantra magazine…then I’d be worthy of more “followers.” This is not just what I’m writing about here, but what I’ve heard and seen around me, and continue to hear and see. There is SO much judgement, opinions, and ideas of what success looks like that we all swim against a current of shame on the daily. I’ve noticed this conflict among my friends and peers, and at times within myself, too. This idea all around us that we for one reason or another are not worthy to be hip, popular, well-liked, followed, respected, trusted in...
It's the ebbs and flows of our time and so we have to stay vulnerable and take breaks when we need to, or share about it all when we need to, in order to manage the feels and allow ourselves the chance to get back up and share again. 

**Vulnerability alert! I just shared again how I sometimes feel unworthy. Let the strange judgements and feelings surrounding this post commence!** 

With it all, as I set out to finally create a real website (one that someone other than my non-techie-self builds), in addition to creating a book, I see the need for a logo and a sort of “brand.” Yet I want to do it in my way. I don’t care to spread it all over the world, but I do hope to share my passions to a deeper tribe when the timing is right. And I know SO many wonderful people who I do "follow" and who offer such tools that could help me expand or market myself better...but what if I don't really want to at this time? What if I'm (trying to be) okay with who I am and what I'm sharing in the moment? Perfectly imperfect musings on the perfectly imperfect life of mine. I don’t want to stress over my image! I simply don’t. At least not right now and that’s okay! I don’t want to portray something that I’m not. I believe that the right people will find me as needed, and me to them. That my path will keep going whether I’m widely known in my city, or elsewhere, or not. Not playing small or big. Not playing at all. I’m much more interested in posting images (a mix of professional and amateur), words, and thoughts that are a part of my life in the every day, because my life is my yoga practice and my yoga practice is my life. It’s all one collaboration that influences the other and how I teach. There is no separation. This for sure leads to people unfollowing me. I’m certain of it. The non-yogis don’t want to see all the yoga stuff, and the yogis want to see more. Maybe posts about motherhood or self-inquiry, or questioning different themes (such as this post) turn people off. Well, it also turns people on. There is absolutely no major method to how I present myself out there…meaning how I market myself. I’m just ME. Not sure if this smart or not, but it’s what always feels right. I’ve “rebelled” over the years and never set myself up with a Jenn Falk Yoga Facebook page or separate IG account. For me it’s a combo of simply not wanting to spend extra time managing various accounts (if you have young kids or another job in addition to teaching yoga, you understand), coupled with this fact that all facets of my life is my practice. 
The various accounts and pages on social media, the strategy, the scheduling it in, the detailed marketing...this works for so many of you. And thank you for your work and your inspirations! I do follow you, too. And I enjoy your success! This is why our world is beautiful because we are all different. The question and the issue arises when we start stacking ourselves up against everyone else to measure our success, instead of asking ourselves what it is we really want from the sharing, the posting, the images. Do we want to be published in an online forum? Do we want someone to comment that they feel the same and that resonance allows us to release our own shame? Do we simply want to get our stuff out to get it out and then keep moving forward, no baggage? It's so valuable to learn from our motives and how we can grow into ourselves with ease. 

What I’m sharing here is to shine a light for those of you out there who resonate with this strange balancing act and the inner struggles over the years to conform, or to not do what every one else is doing. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, which is how I think I am. 
So, I share this to say that your ability to rise strong, to achieve your dreams, to honor who you are…may come at a slower pace. It may not look like everyone else’s. You don’t have to share only the most gorgeous, artsy photos or the most perfect yoga shots. If that’s not YOU, then stop stressing about it and share your heart! If you want. If it IS you and your aim is for recognition and perhaps, fame, and you want to take the time to curate how you present yourself, then do it! If you want. Neither is better than the other and both are worthy! 
Mostly, keep aiming to recognize the power in each of us! To own our shame, our imperfections…because we all deal with it, and see if that not only empowers yourself but your peers. We ARE all in this together even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Love on up and through and out of what you share to bring necessary change and energy to the world through your own small, medium, or large circles! 
And if you notice the fluctuations of "followers"…breathe in some loving kindness and know that at least you’re being you. 

AND, I didn't even read this before writing my own post...but check out the marvelous Chani Nicholas' full moon post for more beautiful insight into the balance of being yourself. 

"We can know that even in the most intense struggles to become ourselves and to find our way, we are still, and will always be, a perfect fit for our own lives. "

- See more at:

#beyou #stayweird #socialintroverts #sensitiveandstrong #fullmoonenergy #vulnerability #courage #findingyourownbalance 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lunar Love Flow...more to come this year

Photo copyright Liza Voll Photography. Shot in my beloved Iceland. Autumn 2015. 

*written a few weeks ago on Christmas Day-Capricorn Full Moon in Cancer*

 Perhaps you find yourself in this high lunge to give thanks for this day and to send your love out. Spirit needs us!
As a Cancer with Capricorn rising, I feel this balance of Water~Earth all of the time. Sometimes the duality is easeful, sometimes not. 
I haven't always been able to walk down my own path with true confidence...because, well, fear. Fear of what others might think, my family would think, of what my own expectations were. It can be hard to get out of your own way. Still is, but it's feeling easier. 
Since having my own kids, finding love, AND since discovering what it's like to have true courage has shifted. The last 5 years have been teaching me to choose more acceptance and love within myself. 
So, my truth is that I've been practicing and teaching yoga with the lunar cycles since the beginning of this yoga path (a decade). That path has been clear to me, but I haven't openly shared my method out of worrying too much that I may not be taken seriously. Or that I'm too hippie/out there. Or not hippie enough! You know the stories we tell. 
The truth is I'm more than those stories and I'm also part of them. We all have so many facets that make us unique. 

I'm part bohemian vibes/part practical. Part wanderlust dreamer/part homebody. Part scientifically-drawn/part mystical moon worshiper. Part holistic health mama/part let them eat the cookies mama. 
Point is-- We all have to keep moving past what we think we need to be in order to just BE it. To let go and shine. 
I'm now seeing the Moon infused in tons of yoga stuff and teachers. I'm psyched! Finally, I'm ready to share what seems to be ready to be shared! 

And yet I'm not going to market myself to look a certain way and sell my method of practice as more Moon Goddess or more yogini mystic than I am. I want all (especially women) to feel included in this way of cycling, listening, moving with the lunar and seasonal cycles...because when we all tune in more, then the world might start to connect deeper to *heart* medicine. 
So, 2016, I am closer to getting my #lunarloveflow out more widely. If you search the hashtag on Instagram, then you will find my posts from 2015 and onward. And I'm currently working on a book guide for you all to have in your hands as inspiration for your own practice! Yes. Let's do this. 

Today, lift yourself up.