Guts over fear: Effects of trauma on the body

July 6, 2018By Allison CelenzaSurrender

Trauma in Motion

Life is a series of challenges. Life changes you. I suppose that is the point. You come into this world with a certain disposition and your environment caters to your every need and helps mold who you are going to be from a foundational end. But then as you enter the world where you are responsible for your needs, you inevitably come in contact with tragedy. It’s like a concoction. Everyone has their own recipe of challenges that they are dealing with, or have dealt with so far in this lifetime. Without going into the specifics of the particular trauma effecting me today, I have decided to share with you my pondering of how the traumas of our lives change us, and as yogis, how we can build awareness around those changes.

Something people rarely talk about (because we are resistant to acknowledging their existence) are the walls we put up to protect ourselves. I truly believe some of these walls are put up out of fear of traumas, and some are put up because of a past trauma. The problem with barriers is that they block the light as well as the dark.

These past traumas also manifest themselves in our bodies as well. Our bodies are literally roadmaps for the traumas that manifest in our bodies; the hunched shoulders, tight hips, etc. are products of our environment but also common places we hold stress. This morning in yoga I was in a simple supported bridge pose and I could feel a subtle energy moving through my core into my chest. It was almost like the stress from my most recent trauma is trying to find a home in my body, and I don’t want it to. I’m so grateful to yoga for finetuning my perception to these energies.

Outside the physical, things are shifting as well. Concerns and fears of my safety are creeping up to a point where I am concerned it will live in my body forever creating anxiety over time. But we can’t control the things that happen around us. It sucks seriously—we want to. We try to. But we can’t. And if we try, if we grip life a little too tight, then we close ourselves off to opportunities and build walls that block the lights in this world like love and joy.

I know I don’t have the full clarity of a person who has worked through this trauma and is sharing from the other side—I’m still very much in it. Because I’m still in it, I am able to pause and observe what is going on, and make a mindful decision as the energies transfer through my body. In truth, I know traumas change a person, but instead of ignoring it, and allowing the change to manifest on its own—usually with fear, anxiety or depression being the result—I have decided to shine a light on it and choose not to store fear in my body, that I’ll be breaking through the rest of my life.

Pause and connect in order to protect and serve. That is my journey on this day.

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Shaking up your stubborn ways

June 19, 2018By Allison CelenzaSurrender

 

Shaking up your stubborn ways

One of my most recent metaphysical hobbies/studies has been astrology—western astrology to be specific (not Vedic—though I did have a Vedic reading last month, but that is a story for another day). Anyways, there is a big thing happening in astrology today that astrologers have been hypothesizing about since the new year. The planet Uranus is transiting into Taurus.

Now before I get ahead of myself I want to chat a tiny bit about astrology and one of the big misconceptions I had about it until I dove in deeper. Most of us know our “sign” (mine is Gemini) but this is specifically your “sun sign” which is based on your month and day of birth (where the sun was on your birthday). But actually there were a lot of other planets transiting through the universe (12 total) on the moment you were born, and the study of astrology is the effects of these planets on you as a person, which can be read in your birth chart, as well as the planetary transits that occur through your life and how they interact with the planetary placements of your birth. It really is a complicated yet fascinatingly accurate study that an astrologer would be able to expand on a lot more than I just quickly did. If this is something you are interested in, I’d recommend reaching out to an astrologer for a reading and/or you can look up your birth chart for free online and google and read books associated with the study.

Back to Uranus entering Taurus. The reason it is a big deal is because Uranus is slow moving (from earth’s standpoint) and it takes about 7 years to transit through an astrological sign. So for the last 7 years it’s been transiting through Aries, which is a fierce, feminine, fire sign. So what effect does Uranus have? It shakes things up. So in the last 7 years you have seen some pretty fierce changes in the feminist movements as well some severe shake-ups in politics in general. Aries is also very entrepreneurial (let’s be honest you can’t not be a little fierce and be an entrepreneur), and I really think the rise in entrepreneurs and freedom-focused lifestyles is due to the last Uranus transit. In comparison, Taurus is earthy, bull-headed, with a true love for beauty and the outdoors. It is no coincidence that at the start of this transit there is literally a shake-up over in Hawaii of the earth as the volcano is. In the next 7 years I believe you will see more of a focus on the earth and how we as mankind are treating it—I hope.

Uranus can be really uncomfortable because it “shakes things up”—something you may have not been paying attention too will have some unforeseen surprises that you will need to adjust to. And now, particularly in the most grounded parts of your being.

One of the tips astrologers have been giving around this transit is to go with the flow and not be the bull (that Taurus is known as) and try to fight off these unforeseen shake-ups. Flow with it—evolve from it—and see how this part of your life changes and grows throughout the next 7 years. Be well!

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Recent news of Kate Spade’s suicide and our responsibility to one another

June 6, 2018By Allison CelenzaConnection

Recent news of Kate Spade’s suicide and our responsibility to one another

I’m struggling with the recent news of talented accessories designer, Kate Spade’s suicide. I’m definitely not a fashionista, but in college my first brand name bag was a little red Kate Spade handbag, and I’ve always admired the watercolor artwork she uses in her branding.

When anyone passes away in the limelight it sets a ripple effect to an entire population reminding us of how fragile life is and how there are people around us that are truly suffering. I believe it is not in our place to judge the struggles each one of us is going through. Everyone has struggles. It’s how we take them on—it’s how we let them flow through our being—it’s how we relate to them…that makes us the people we are.

We live such busy lives with so many distractions it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the empathy we hold for other people’s struggles. On the other side it is hard to share our own struggles with people and let people in. We all walk around with these invisible barriers. Yoga is a practice that tries to build the body, mind and heart stronger while opening the heart to empathize and connect with others.

Two years ago, I was going through one of those big struggles in my life, and I told as little people as possible. I didn’t even tell my parents for a month until it escalated. My struggles were in my relationship as I found out I was pregnant. That relationship is now over…the struggle was real. I didn’t want to burden people with my issues. My practice of yoga helped me to remain strong inside—where it counted—with my baby, but I still struggled to let people really see me. I had the best distraction in the world. When people would ask me how I was doing, I would talk about the pregnancy. We do that I believe—distract others from the truth. How many people respond with how busy they are at work when asked how they are these days? Yes, but what is happening one layer down. How does that busyness feel?

Hope

My hope is while we let the news of Kate Spade’s suicide flow through our consciousness we take this moment to open our eyes. To ask the follow up question to that “busy” answer and ask how that busyness really feels, and take this opportunity to truly connect with one another. We are not here to help people with their struggles, but we are here together to support one another.

Open your eyes. Open your heart.

 

This blog post was originally posted on the Heart Center Collective.

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One Moment at a Time

May 21, 2018By Allison CelenzaGrounded

How to Balance Courage and Comfort

The yoga mat is the ultimate playground to experiment with the balance between strength and flexibility. In order to get to a class you waver with this balance. It takes willpower to just show up. Then you are there and you look around the classroom, and you need to practice flexibility in choosing where you will lay out your mat. You may need to set up closer to your neighbor then you’d like or you may not have that spot by the wall that you love—practice of flexibility. And then in every posture, it takes strength and will to get into your most beautiful version of the pose. You aren’t working to get it to a perfect pose because the longer you practice yoga the more you learn that there is always room for improvement. So as you are practicing that balance between moving into the edges of your pose while very intuitively listening to your body to avoid injury, you get to your place of strength—and then I would encourage you to release and ease into the pose, and you might be surprised by how much your body gets closer to its most beautiful version when you do so.

This is the same in life. It takes strength and willpower to walk out that door every day. Take a moment to acknowledge that. But you can’t be all strength and no flexibility. We live in this great big beautiful world alongside a bunch of other humans with their own strengths shining brightly. In order to not have a bumper car style life, bumping and bombarding into every person we come in contact with, we need to learn flexibility. Flexibility also comes in the form of compromise, teamwork, and overall kindness and consideration. This is the yin and yang of life.

So as you approach your mat today, take a moment to reflect on this philosophy and try this out. Take one posture—maybe warrior 2, and as you lead your body into the alignment of the pose, listen and see where you can push more (strength), say into the bend in your legs or the energy flowing from your hands, and then take the opposite energy (flexibility), and see if you can release your thoughts, any tension in your jaw, and your shoulders down your back.

As you approach your life today, take a moment to reflect on this philosophy and try this out. Go through your to-do list and pick one thing, perhaps picking your child up from school and think about how you can do it with more purpose. Perhaps you show up 5 minutes early (strength) and put your phone away and give your child the most heart warming smile and listen to what your child is telling you (from his/her body language to their words) and connect (flexibility), and see how that moment became more than a chore. Our lives can be full of chores or it can be full of these purposeful moments—balancing will and flexibility—courage and comfort.

The smaller you tune in, the easier this experiment is to see. So try small—one moment at a time.

This blog post was originally posted on the Heart Center Collective, which is a business I am a co-founder on with Jhoanna Rae of YINtuitive Yoga.

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Breath Connection

September 14, 2016By Allison CelenzaConnection

Pre-natal connection and faith

As I walk out of yoga today, I take a moment to consider my breathing. Despite nearly 8 years of a dedicated yoga practice, shallow breathing continues to be my go-to rather than yoga breathing or belly breathing. I believe my shallow breathing habit probably stems from poor posture growing up hunching, which may be a physical manifestation to protect my sensitive heart. Through yoga, I have uncovered a belief that our bodies hold clues; I believe the shallow breathing and protected heart posture are my clues that this is an area I will be working to open in my life.

The other part of my story is that I am currently 7 1/2 months pregnant with a sweet baby boy. This is my first pregnancy and I have certainly applied what I have learned from yoga into this process because quite frankly, being pregnant takes a lot of faith. Just yesterday I had an ultrasound and have learned that my sweet baby is underweight and they are concerned he isn’t getting the nutrients he needs. Beyond the numerous doctors visits I will now need to attend, the biggest thing I can do is have faith….and to breathe.

But sometimes fear is interlaced with magic. As I lay at the doctor’s office yesterday with an ultrasound technician monitoring my baby’s lungs to make sure he is “breathing” (note: babies in utero simulate breathing but their first breath actually takes place at birth), panic begins to set in as the minutes tick by. The technician tells me that they allow 30 minutes for this activity in order to pass the test—30 minutes! Every minute that goes by, my breathing becomes shallower and harder to control as my worry rises. At the 25 minute mark I lay back and say aloud, “That’s okay baby. I’m not very good at breathing either.”, and he takes that long-awaited breath and passes the test. It is quite magical really. My connection to him is so strong that I just needed to connect to him and he connected back. The other magical part is what can happen when we surrender to our faith.

My breath connection to my baby reminds me that panic and worry can bring my focus outside myself; while surrender and faith will always bring me back. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Note: I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy son 5 days after this post was published. He was premature 6 weeks and 2 days and thanks to the help of the NICU doctors and nurses prospered and grew strong until he was ready to come home.

Look Within

September 8, 2016By Allison CelenzaConnection

Insight into my Scattered Mind

As my attention goes from purchasing a dress for an upcoming event to addressing the envelopes for a wedding client of mine to making plans to see a comedy show with friends this coming weekend, I can’t help but get a glimpse of a pattern in my day-to-day life. This pattern appears in the form of multitasking, ambition, and sensory overload. None of these things are particularly harmful, and can be great tools to use in order to accomplish change in life. Where I feel it is becoming harmful to me is when it distracts me from the connections I make with myself and my intuition from within.

Intuition

I have studied the Myers-Brigg Personality study as well as Jung’s Typology test, and have found great insight into my own personality type, the INFJ. The INFJ, for those that don’t know, stands for Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging. I could write a whole blog post on the intricacies of these four characteristics, but for the sake of this post, I want to focus on the Intuitive characteristic. The personality test I took gave percentage degrees related to each of the characteristics, and my Intuition came in at 98%. Clearly, intuition is a big strength of mine. So this brings me back to my point from earlier…why don’t I let it manifest to its fullest potential in my day-to-day life?

What I’m learning is that even though my intuition is a great gift, it doesn’t mean I don’t need to practice it. Same could be said of olympic gymnasts. It is a rarity to have such physical gifts as a gymnast, but that doesn’t mean that they can simply do gymnastics (and not injure themselves) without practice, and even a trainer to guide them along the way. Sometimes I forget the power of practice. It is so easy to see the accomplishments of others and not see the failures, practice, and work that was laid out prior to the visible accomplishments people market to the world.

One of my intuitions is that Hand-Painted Yoga is my opportunity to connect with myself and others, that is why I have decided to start blogging and sharing more—as a practice of looking within. I don’t believe one of my gifts is writing, so I appreciate your kindness as I start this journey and practice the art of connecting with you. Namaste.

Artwork by Hand-Painted Yoga