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Aligning with Gratitude

Yoga Path

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Thank you for patience.  Thank you for clarity.  Thank you for the resistance that offers more clarity.  Thank you for the people in my life that help guide me.  Thank you for the gift of hearing and the sounds of birds singing.  Thank for the gift of sight and the ever changing colors of the sky.  Thank you for pain so that I know compassion. Thank you comfort.  Thank you for the ability to taste.  Thank you for so much variety in the taste of food.  Thank you for the strength to evolve.  Thank you for insight.  Thank you for courage.  Thank you for heart.  Thank you for my beautiful boy.   Thank you for an easy breath.  Thank you for forgiveness.  Thank you for truth.  Thank you for the opportunities to receive.  Thank you for the grace that extends beyond the lessons.  

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We will always be your home

Mary Singleton

My aunt gave me a gift.  I wish I could have recorded her words so that I could relay them to you verbatim.  Here’s pretty close…

“It’s the people who have the courage to dig through their own shit to find peace that make this world a better place.  We all take up space in this world and we have an obligation to recognize and heal those parts of us that are toxic.  We all make mistakes and when we realize we keep making the same mistakes, and choose the action that brings us closer to resolving those issues, we become the people that put goodness back into the world.  That is how and why one is seen for their love and strength and resilience.  Its a choice to face your demons.  The strongest of people do.” 

Our beautiful Brittany has decided to leave teaching at the studio so she can continue to create space in her life to follow her calling.  I have had the honor of watching this inspiring, magnetic woman persevere through the challenges of stepping out of the box to do something that makes this world a better place.  She has exploded onto the scene of honoring women and their unique journey.  She has been a friend to me and a kindred spirit from day one.  Yoga Path will always be  better for her being a part of it.  Thank you Brittany for sharing your life with us.  Thank you for always championing me on my path.  You always have a yoga home with us.  

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The Crackle of Courage

Mary Singleton

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One of the things I’ve always struggled with is allowing the good stuff to sink in, and I mean that literally…letting it sink in; experiencing it body, mind, and spirit. Being in a position now where my physical body has healed enough to give me the energy to begin to heal mind and spirit, this struggle has been brought to the forefront…and it’s already losing its hold over me. Opening to all the love, prayers, thoughts, and energy generously sent to me and channeling it into healing was step one.

We fully experience life through our spirit, our life force, and that is woven through all parts of our being. (Yoga philosophy approaches this in many ways; one in particular is the pancha maya kosha model.) The brain can suppress certain ways we acknowledge and feel life, but we still hold it in our being. When we open to working with the integrity of our life forces’s cohesive nature, we can fully heal our whole being.

I have spent so many years struggling with depression/anxiety that I abandoned my body. I fled my own sense of embodiment in order to escape the constant gnawing in my belly, vice grip on my heart, and incessant threat of implosion in my head. In doing so, I blocked my body’s ability to acknowledge the love and support that have been gifted to me daily. What I could register logically I suppressed elsewhere, and thus hid myself from the full experience of life.

Part of any trauma is the effect of PTSD whether mild or intense. As I turn to this very real aftermath, my work ahead shows itself in the haunting reality of the incredible force of impact my body undertook, the struggle in accepting the loss of memory, and the guilt for the trauma and trauma recovery of my son and husband. It also includes knowing surviving my injuries was nothing short of a miracle. I hit my thick skull, just missing C1. I broke C2 in such a way that I did not damage or sever my spinal cord, and the break itself stayed in alignment with the rest of my spine. C1 and C2 spinal injuries almost always result in death or full paralysis.

I am alive and I will have full use of my body.

Everyday I commit to never leaving my body again.

Since this accident there are two comments that have consistently thread their way through the well-wishes and support. One is that my “big smile” or “smiling face” is missed. That makes me smile…big. To be seen for my smile allowed me to wake up and see it too. No one has said, “I miss the way you try to control every outcome with your worrying.” A smile has the profound ability to connect and heal. Worrying? Not so much...

The second comment came from loved ones who felt better for setting eyes on me and in response to my last letter. It was seeing me for my “amazing resilience” or “ unbelievable strength”.

Talk about not letting the good soak in. Validated by a history of depression and anxiety, I have spent many years engaged in therapy confronting my ways of experiencing life. I never saw myself as resilient or strong. Its those comments in particular where the imposter syndrome has always reared its ugly head saying, “if only they knew the real you.” Simply put, this isn’t a matter of resilience or strength for me. Its a matter of “what choice do I have?” Wallowing is for the birds. I’ve been given a second chance. A visit from my aunt was the crack I needed to realize it is precisely that approach to life that is a mark of strength.

Having the courage to step into the truth and the resilience to hang in there until the positive change happens deserves the respect I’ve denied myself for so long. She helped me see how important it is to heal all parts of me. Never deny your voice. We can only hear what we need to when we are ready. Her words were backed by years of the same message, but its the first time they sunk in. I wish I could have recorded her words so that I could relay them to you verbatim. Here’s pretty close…

“It’s the people who have the courage to dig through their own shit to find peace that make this world a better place. We all take up space in this world and we have an obligation to recognize and heal those parts of us that are toxic. We all make mistakes and when we realize we keep making the same mistakes, and choose the action that brings us closer to resolving those issues, we become the people that put goodness back into the world. That is how and why one is seen for their love and strength and resilience. Its a choice to face your demons. The strongest of people do.”

We are all gifted with our truth and our own way of speaking that truth. For the first time I heard. For the first time I recognized my own strength. I am resilient and I will continue to grow and heal into the person I am called to be. I am awakening to an acknowledgement of taking things as they come in their own time and embodying the wide spectrum of experiences they offer. I’m finally seeing that who I am is not a struggle to overcome something lost, but a big smile and a strong, resilient heart.

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Breath as Balance

Mary Singleton

It's a balance between will and surrender.

It's a balance between will and surrender. I read a cue from the Integral Yoga School that described the exhale as the muscular effort of will. I love that! It gives me somewhere to direct my emotion, my physical tension, my mental chatter. If for just that exhale, I can focus on releasing, I've created space for the possibility of receiving. What am I receiving? Simply, I'm receiving the inhale. If I press through my effort on the exhale, I can relax and soften into the inhale. We soften so much as to surrender. In that softening, we are able to receive more. We receive more breath. So where the exhale is the muscular effort of will, the inhale is the softening into surrender.

 

Yoga sums this up with the words isvara pranidhana. What can we actually control that we spend our energy trying to control? Isvara pranidhana is the practice of letting go so we can receive. When I let go of trying to control the outcome of things, I give myself a little more space to breathe and a little more time to decide how to react. But the act of letting go, surrendering the outcome to the bigger picture, seems too daunting at times.

 

Pranayama, the practice of adaptive breathing techniques, is a tool for just these moments. What's great about sitting still and focusing is learning about your unique breathing patterns, working with the stream of inner dialogue, noticing areas of held tension and ease. When we understand how our body, breath, and mind react to each other we have more choices available to us in how we respond to life around us. Because we practice, we can use what we have learned even when we are not practicing. We can choose a different way to think, to breathe. We can sit still with what we feel. We can do it again when we get triggered. We can do it when we have been overwhelmed with joy. We can do it during times of deep sadness. We can access the fruits of our practice at exactly the moments we need it. There only one thing we have to do... practice.

 

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Svadhyaya

Mary Singleton

Svadhyaya: “Know yourself so well that you will grow into your wholeness and greatness.” - C.L.

 

   Running on empty does not make me a pleasant person to live with. Neither does blaming others for my feeling so run down. I was run down because I was working so hard to keep other people happy (or so I told myself). I was run down because I wanted to make sure others knew, and implicated, the best next step for them to take. Ha!!! Like I was an expert on how someone else should live their own life. By a bucket dump of wisdom from others and the gift of grace, I’ve seen how my attempts to “help” have resulted in the gradual whittling away of their autonomy. At the time, it was easier than looking at my own autonomy, my own path, my own stuff. 
   While I had no problem telling my husband what HE needed to do to make me happy, it was quite unpleasant, to say the least, to realize I couldn’t answer that question for myself. If I take sole responsibility for creating my own happiness, what the heck does that look like? Am I even allowed to give myself space for my own happiness? Don’t I have too much to do to worry about that? 

   I talked with people I trust and I read…A LOT. Taking complete responsibility for my own happiness requires a major shift in perspective. I began collecting my energy and owning the parts of me I was ignoring. Accepting the task of compiling a daily list of desires, I saw my first adversary was myself. It showed up in that critical voice telling me why this “desire was wrong, that one won’t work, I was crazy for even thinking of that one.” However, how can I be happy if I don’t own what that means for me? 

   When I own the rights to my own happiness it doesn’t have to mean that every moment is exalted in joy. It does mean that every moment is precious and I have more time to be in the moment. When I treat myself with loving kindness, I suddenly have an abundance of loving kindness to share. 

   So now when I hear myself say, “if only he/she would…then I would be…,” a big red flag starts flying high. I’m learning to replace it with a new practice. Honor the higher self—in myself and others—and trust that we each have our own ways of meeting this world. I’ve got my own job of taking care of myself. That’s the only way I can really be of help to others. 

   What can you do today to take care of yourself? Anything from enjoying a hot cup of coffee to a walk with a friend, from a good book to a nap…and of course, gotta make the yoga class plug. There is nothing at all wrong with saying what makes you happy. Own it by saying it.

As my husband quoted, “never apologize for the space you take up in this world.”

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Why I love Mary Singleton

Mary Singleton

"One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries..." —Brene Brown

 

When do we decide to hold ourselves accountable?

 

Mary and I have had some very honest conversations about our challenges and triumphs in the boundless world of boundary issues. She is someone who has held me accountable. She has reminded me to honor my heart, believe in my talent, and focus on my dream. She has been a teacher to me in many ways.

 

Mary Singleton, first and foremost, is my friend. She's also been a student, teacher, co-worker, and colleague. She has invited me into her life and let me see what brings her joy and what breaks her heart. She has been a trusted friend who has let me share the same. I've watched her follow her heart and find her path through her undeniable talent and persevering work ethic. She is an amazing artist, excellent web designer, an innovative business thinker, and a solid friend.

 

In honoring her own heart and energy, she has decided to take a hiatus from teaching at Yoga Path. I say hiatus because the door is always open for her to come back. She's good, good people.

 

Boundary struggles don't isolate themselves to one particular area of our life...that's the very nature of a boundary issue. And guess where setting healthy boundaries begins...

 

Thank you, Mary, for keeping it real around here. You are very loved.

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