Sarah Jamieson Yoga - Summer 2015 Newsletter
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Move well.    Breathe well.    Be well.

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” - Herman Hesse

On a baby break!

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that it was going to be a year of transitions for me, but what I didn't share at that time was that one of those transitions was into parenthood. My husband Chris and I are expecting our first baby -- a little girl -- any day now! 

Growing a human has been an intense, and at times consuming, experience. I was quite sick for the first 5 months of my pregnancy, and that is why I decided to take a break from offering my Yoga for Pain Relief course starting last spring. I had my last day teaching at CHANGEPain this past Thursday. I feel a noticeable sense of sadness in response to stepping away from teaching, which really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am do to work that I enjoy so much and find so fulfilling. 

I'm planning to continue with the graduate certificate in pain management program through the fall, which may end up being a decision I look back on as a a crazy one... but I'm sure it won't be the last crazy decision I make! I'm also hoping to make a gradual transition back to teaching fairly early on in my parenthood adventures, but in making that plan, I'm remembering something that an old teacher of mine often used to say: "We plan, God laughs."

I know a number of you have recently signed up for this newsletter to find out about when I will be back to teaching, so please know that I will be in touch as my plans solidify. 

Thanks so much for supporting me in this work that I feel so grateful to be able to do. 

With love, 

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Overcome Pain with Gentle Yoga

Neil Pearson, a mentor of mine and a bit of a celebrity in the world of using yoga to support the well-being of people living with chronic pain, is coming to Vancouver! He is offering a course with Tianne Allan at Semperviva Yoga in early October. 

I've taken Neil's training for yoga teachers and health care practitioners, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to see him work directly with people dealing with persistent pain. If new parenthood allows, I hope to be able to attend myself. 

Click here to visit Semperviva's website and find out more about the course
Taking Care

In reflecting on what to write about for this month's Taking Care section, I asked myself, "What do I need to be reminded of right now?"

The answer that came to me was: "Trust my body".

We are living in a time when it is very easy to get very cerebral about things, and that is incredibly evident when it comes to pregnancy and birth. It is amazing the number of books that have been written to teach us about something that our bodies already know how to do. I have been incredibly fortunate to have found a prenatal yoga teacher who has strongly encouraged me to step away from the emphasis on cognitively preparing for birth and to focus on preparing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Given how much body-based work I do, it is striking to me how easy it is for me to pop back up into my head and relatively disconnect from my body. Interestingly enough, intense pain in the body is something that initially pushes me up into my head. I initially feel fear, anxiety and panic in response. At that point, one of two things happens:

I stay in my head.

And, I get more panicked and upset. I feel disempowered and under threat, and I tend to spiral down into a place where I feel like a victim. 

Or, I come back into my body. 

And, when I am back in my body, I remember that I have tools. I remember that I am resilient. I remember that this intensity will pass and that there are likely things that I can do to decrease the intensity. I become calmer because I feel more empowered, and the pain experience becomes much easier to endure. 

Given the experience I have ahead of me in the near future, my answer makes a lot of sense. What do you need to be reminded of right now?
Recommended Reads

Since I haven't been sending out my newsletter as often, I want to recommend three great books that I've read this year. 
Book #1: The Pain Detective
The Pain Detective, Every Ache Tells a Story: Understanding How Stress and Emotional Hurt Become Chronic Physical Pain by physiatrist Hillel Finestone offers a wonderfully compassionate look at the complexity of the human experience of pain. Each chapter in the book looks at a different person dealing with pain, and throughout the book, he tells the story of people with all different sorts of factors playing into their pain experience (from mostly physical to high stress at work to a history of abuse). 
Book #2: Move Your DNA
Katy Bowman is a biomechanist, and her book Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement offers an inspiring look at the importance of movement. She makes a point of differentiating movement from exercise, and argues that we should prioritize movement over exercise. She is very convincing. 
Book #3: Healing Through   the Dark Emotions
I recently signed up for GoodReads and based on my reading history, this book came up as a top recommendation. I am only a third of the way through Miriam Greenspan's Healing Through Dark Emotions:The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, and despite having a personal policy against recommending something I haven't experienced and/or finished, I am recommending this book. Based on the first third of this book alone, I would put it in a "required life reading" category. The author offers a profoundly insightful and compassionate look at how we are served by our emotions – especially the ones that are harder to feel.  

How Productivity Has Wasted My Time
I was quite struck by the ideas Rachel Scott puts forth in this blog post. As someone who also struggles with "planning compulsions", it is quite interesting to consider that my plans may be putting blinders on my experiences. 
The importance of emotional awareness has been on my mind a lot lately. It's in part in response to reading Miriam Greenspan's Healing Through Dark Emotions:The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, and in part a growing appreciation of human beings as emotional creatures who are driven by their emotions whether they are in touch with them or not. We become infinitely more empowered when we are aware enough of our emotions to choose how we act in response to them. 
Two catch phrases about emotions that I love are:
"Name it to tame it."

"Feel it to heal it."
And a beautiful quote from Greenspan's book:

"The truth is that emotions may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they are not good or bad. The Latin root of the word emotion is movere, meaning 'to move.' Emotions are energies that move us – to feel, to express our feelings, to act. Emotional energy is neither positive nor negative. It is just energy. Only our attitude toward these emotions and what we do with the energy can be called positive or negative." 
The Body Scan

The body scan is a powerful meditation practice for re-establishing contact with the body. It develops stability of mind (concentration), calmness, and mindfulness.  
Consistency Builds Commitment
I repeat the phrase "consistency builds commitment" so regularly that I almost feel like I should quote myself when I write it. In follow-up to the 3-minute body scan I shared above, I want to share this piece I wrote a couple of years ago about what I think is the best way to build new habits of self-care in your daily life.
Thank You!

Thanks for taking the time to read through my newsletter. If you have comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you. Namaste. ❤ 
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