Big Travels / Big Love

Hey friends ❤️ I have some giant travels coming up and I think they are really going to alter the course of my life.

December 29th I am so grateful to return to India (where I was here in this photo after a blessing from a pandit along the Ganga in Banares) to study The Yoga of Sound in Rishikesh in Swargashram at Nada Yoga School. This is a rigorous 28 days from 6am to 8pm of study, music, mantra, asana, and purifying practices at an ashram with 7+ Indian faculty.

From there I’ll do some traveling with my partner Dylan for awhile (back to Varanasi!), and then head to Bali, Indonesia for 2 months. I’ll be working on writing my eventual book (my fave psychology professor Dr. Bud McClure as editor!), yoga of sound teaching curriculum for Yess’ advanced training, and e-courses in creativity, yoga + music, and then leading the first Creativity & Yoga Retreat on Bali’s west coast!!

As a performing songwriter for over 20 years, and yoga instructor for 10 years, been doing this creative entrepreneur life for awhile. Lots of hustles and no clear path to follow. I’ve kept my options open w/o having kids or stable jobs to “follow my bliss” as it were. I’m over the moon that my retreats sold out to allow for this time of deeper study and solitude to reflect, write, and plan.

I can’t say exactly how the life will look upon return, however I will have my 8th album “The World is Your Lover” to release officially into the world!

I don’t have much space to hang before I go as I have to finish my kickstarter fulfillments and work and see my family and beau. But if you wanna come to a show, I’d be SO GRATEFUL TO SEE YOU before shipping off to India!

BIG LOVE & THANKS! ❤️ Mary

Nov 20th Hook & Ladder Mission Room -7pm solo w/ special guests Tara Sherman for mantras & goddess stories & Julia Floberg on cello

Dec 1st Dusty’s Bar NE Minneapolis – 8:30pm solo w/ Bev

Dec 18th – Hook & Ladder MAIN stage w/ full band and special guests – exciting new details TBA!

Dec 27th – Minnesota History Center 1pm show – in support of the “First Ave, Stories of Minnesota’s Main Room Exhibit” solo on the baby grand piano!

MAY 22nd 2020 Hook & Ladder Theatre – The World is Your Lover Album Release Party with Superior Siren & guests

Tell me, where does that mantra come from? Thoughts on gratitude

Please enjoy a listen and free download of yoga inspired songs here while you read!

I’m at a beloved studio where I teach yoga.  Two classes in a row this morning, 9:30 and 11am Beginners class.  During our breath centering practice at the beginning of each class, I chant a mantra for peace and protection.  It is in Sanskrit, and I offer the translation to students so they know what they are chanting. The translation loosely means, 

“May we be protected;  may we be nourished; may our intellects be stimilated;  may we practice together with enthusiasm; may we practice together without animosity.  Om (the primordial sound of the universe).  Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (peace peace peace).” 

sahana vavatu 

Saha nau bhunaktu 

Saha viiryam karavaavahai 

Tejasvi nau adhitamastu 

Ma vidvissavahai 

Om shanti shanti shanti

I usually chant the whole thing one time through and then offer it as a call and response.  I learned it in my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification program at Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, WA (2009). I always make sure to say that chanting is optional, that they can simply let the sound wash over them. I’m always surprised and humbled at how many students chant in response.  It is so beautiful, and the feeling in my heart and the traces left in the room feel calming and palpable, at least to me. 

When I returned from India this past March,  I was deeply struggling with appropriation. Is it appropriate for me to teach yoga,  as a “white, spiritual woman” as they say? How can I possibly know enough to offer these ancient, sacred teachings?  I talked to a few of my teachers who told me that it is good that I am questioning this and it shows that I have compassion and deeply care.  I also revisted a few books from reknowned yoga masters, like The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.  In Autobiography,  Yogananda speaks of how he was instructed to bring the teachings to the west as,  well, we sure could use them! 

What I finally settled on in my heart was that the teachings of yoga benefit all of humanity.  They help us to find comfort and ease in our bodies. The yamas and niyamas provide guidelines to stand in alignment with our morals and ethics.  Breathing practices are cleansing, centering, and may lengthen lives.  The progress inward towards deeper states of meditation can translate to what yoga ultimately means – union,  yoking, uniting with that which is so much greater than us. Oneness, our true self, our higher self, the divine.  

Today after class a student approached me,  very sweet and complimentary. And then she asked if it would be possible to offer gratitude or some information about where that mantra came from as she thinks we should honor and respect its history.  My heart sank and I felt like I failed terribly. I thanked her so much for this feedback. I offered that Sanskrit is an energetic language and that this mantra is for peace and non-denominational. I knew I sounded flustered and was trying my best not to be defensive in my white fragility because she was absolutely right and I feel sad that I didn’t offer any teaching about where that mantra comes from.  

As she was putting on her shoes I approached her again and thanked her and told her about my experience in India and how I often feel conflicted about teaching yoga for reasons of appropriation,  not knowing enough, etc. She said that now she is doing social work at a college and reading so many articles about cultural appropriation and learning and speaking out when she feels called to.  I think this is great and we must do this, and major kudos to her for speaking up. And I just have to know that I have soooo much to learn. She also said that in this modern day, there is so much fusion of culture and we are all changed from the interconnectedness of the human planet.  She said, she’s not an Indian woman and she loves yoga, so she gets it … 

And I’m about to travel back to India in just four short months to study The Yoga of Sound / Nada Yoga. To get deeper into mantra and Sanksrit and the music and culture of India.  I need to be prepared to break wide open from this learning. I need this humbling, all offering deep lessons. I need to be offering gratitude for the root of what I love so much.  SO much.

In my meditation this morning I had asked my higher self / divine guidence to show me how to grow my container,  to show me how to study, to show me the way to learning in that I may be a deeper vessel of service to others. So that I may speak clearly and share my love in a way that grows that love in others.  I think this was one of those divine messages, and I’m grateful for this student speaking up after yoga class this morning, all the way over in Minneapolis, Minnesota where these ancient, humbling,  beautiful teachings have traveled. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you.

Would love to practice with you sometime! My current teaching schedule is here.

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“I Have Wrestled With The Angel And I Am Stained With Light” – Mary Oliver / April 2018 Newsletter

Good morning, sunshine …

To begin,  a quote by Mary Oliver from a stirring article twitter brought to my awareness via Brian Pickings:

“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.” – Mary Oliver