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A  Pre and Postpartum Yoga Teacher Training and Immersion: April 2/3 and 9/10, plus two private meetings

Understand birth, and you understand the very heart of Yoga, the fact that you are Mother, the source and force of Life.   Direct access to your power, what Yoga calls Shakti, is the gift.

By learning the principles of breath and body that let the vast intelligence of life flow, you’ll have the practical means to prepare for the complete integration that giving birth entails. These principles come from Krishnamacharya; in the deep denial of the Feminine that still defines our world, they have yet to become a part of our collective understanding.  They are simple and safe and lead to an experience of your natural state and the strong likelihood of an uncomplicated, spontaneous birth.

An exploration of the physical, psychological, and spiritual transformations a woman goes through in the childbearing year will give you insight into her needs and will help you provide a space that nourishes her connection to herself and her community.  The Feminine Force isn’t a concept, myth or metaphor.  She is you and me.

This experience has meant more than words can say.  I am leaving today with a full heart, deep inspiration and an overwhelming feminine connection.    Jessica Liebgott, Yoga practitioner and aspiring midwife

I don’t know if I can begin to express my gratitude for the love, incredible insight and passion you have shared with me and ignited in me!  It is with a sense of connecting with something much bigger with myself that I walk out into the world with after this weekend.    Amanda Montgomery, Yoga teacher and mother

Crescence Krueger passes on the beautifully simple and profound yoga she has received from Mark Whitwell.  Her ability to integrate the wisdom of traditional midwifery into our current teaching and birthing environments is rooted in eighteen years’ work as a doula, helping women give birth, and a twenty year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin.  Real relationship is at the heart of both yoga and birth and Crescence is committed to teaching in a way that makes it possible.  She was on the faculty of the Yoga Festival of Toronto in 2010 and has played a variety of leading roles in the community over the past two decades.

Included are two private meetings, one before and one after our group gatherings on April 2/3 and 9/10, Saturdays 9:30am to 6:00pm, Sundays, 11:30am to 6:00pm.  The one-on-one time is an opportunity to talk and to receive an appropriate personal practice in preparation for, and integration of, the training.  Your own practice is the source of your effectiveness as a teacher and your power as an individual.  Everyone, including pregnant women, is welcome.

Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre, 358 Dupont Street (west of Spadina) Toronto, ON, Canada

Fee $645.00;  Certificate; Yoga Alliance CEU’s.

Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org   416.994.4566

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Who are you? You are Mother, the very source and force of Life.  Having direct experience of your own power, what Yoga calls Shakti, is the opportunity that giving birth presents.  A complete understanding of Yoga gives you simple access to this experience.

So come!  Immerse yourself in four days of Yoga!  Deepen and refine your receptivity by learning the principles of practice that let the power and intelligence of life flow.  Krishnamacharya gave precise instructions so that you can create an authentic, safe and efficient Yoga practice for yourself and those you teach.  These principles can be incorporated into any “style” of Yoga. You’ll move to the pulse of your breath, release it on sound, work with yantra and mantra and know philosophy as your own direct contact with reality. Having the strength to receive life is the point of yoga practice and the challenge inherent in giving birth. The means to this strength has been missing from contemporary culture and yoga teaching; it is the Feminine.  In integrating the feminine principle back into how we practice, we no longer separate ourselves from life but have the ability to fully embrace it.

An exploration of the physiological transformations that occur in the childbearing year and of the “neural hormonal flow of love” that is responsible for the birth and breast feeding processes will give our work a good foundation and point to a woman’s practical needs during this time.  Her psychological needs are equally strong.  Understanding the universal arc of a woman’s journey through birth will deepen your ability to respond to where she is at.  I give you the means to teach pregnant and new mothers safely and effectively and know the feminine force not as a concept, myth or metaphor but as the real life that moves through us all.

Who am I? I teach in the lineage of Krishnamacharya from the beautifully simple and profound yoga I have received from Mark Whitwell.   My knowledge of traditional midwifery comes from a nineteen year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. The union of these two understandings creates a body of wisdom that is whole and relevant to our current circumstances and life style.  For nineteen years, I have also been a mother.  I gave birth in a way that rooted my daughter and me in an enduring intimacy.  The urge to pass on this power led to my work as a doula and teacher.  Helping women access their strength and receptivity, their awareness of their inherent perfection, has been the foundation of my work over the last seventeen years.  It brings me again and again into the heart of Life.

October 29 – November 1, 2010
10:00am to 5:00pm at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre (formerly Kokoro Dojo),
358 Dupont Avenue (just west of Dupont subway)

To register, call 416.994.4566 or email crescence@heartofbirth.org

Space is still available in what will be an intimate and responsive learning situation.

Workshop fee : $485.00
Workshop Certificate; Yoga Alliance CEU’s.

For more about Crescence’s work, see www.heartofbirth.org

A full understanding of Yoga gives you not just a way to feel good in your body, not just a way to relax your mind, but a way to participate wholly in the birth process. You are Mother, the very source and force of Life. Connected to your fundamental power, you will know in your very bones how to give birth.

The yoga technology that gives you this connection is not widely available. I have gotten it from Mark Whitwell, one of the world’s “teachers of the teachers”. Curiously, Mark says, knowledge of the Feminine has been left out of western yoga education. In integrating her principles back into how we practice, we remarry Yoga to its non-dual Tantric origins and in the process, bring the fragmented aspects of ourselves together again. We move easily and efficiently into the freedom of our natural state.

In our practice, breath initiates, guides and completes our movement. We are soft and strong. We are like a wave in rhythmic flow where breathing, moving, meditation and life are a seamless process. We have the strength to receive Life and give birth. We are in true relationship to ourselves and our babies. We are love.

Beginning Sunday, November 7th, from 11:30am to 1:00pm and running for six weeks until December 19th (no class on Nov.21st)
at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre (formerly Kokoro Dojo)
358 Dupont Avenue (just west of Dupont subway)
$20.00 to drop-in; $108.00 for the session of six.

Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org

The Yoga Festival Toronto 2010, August 20-22, is fast approaching!  I am part of the faculty and have written an article on birth and yoga for their August newsletter.

It’s preceded by Brandy Leary’s on the yoga of dance.  I met Brandy many years ago when she performed in the very intimate space of Joanna De Souza‘s Kathak dance studio.  My daughter and I studied with Joanna for many years.  It is in the tapas, the fire, of my time with her that the full force of yoga began to move in me.   I began dance training at the age of five, taking ballet classes up to three days a week until the age of twelve.  So dance is in my muscles and bones, in the fibre of what I am.

To have my writing matched with Brandy’s is a perfect link then, because the process of becoming a dancer, becoming the dance, is the same process of creation and self creation that women go through when they give birth.  We do the impossible.

Please join us at the Festival in a few weeks!  It is a non-commercial event put together with great love and intelligence and provides a real container for exploring yoga on all its levels.  This year, almost all the teachers are based in Toronto and the strength of community this engenders is very beautiful and needed.  And synchronously, the architectural beauty of the National Ballet School enfolds it all!

Come immerse yourself in four days of authentic yoga tantra! Deepen and refine your receptivity by learning the principles of practice that let the power of life flow. You’ll move to the pulse of your breath, release it on sound, work with yantra and mantra and know philosophy as your own direct contact with reality.

Having the strength to receive life is the point of yoga practice and the challenge inherent in giving birth. The means to this strength has been missing from contemporary culture and yoga teaching. It is the Feminine.

An exploration of the physiology and neural hormonal flow of love in a pregnant, birthing and breastfeeding woman will give our work a good foundation and point to her practical needs during the childbearing year. You’ll be able to teach pregnant and new mothers safely and effectively and know the feminine force not as a concept, myth or metaphor but as the real life that moves through us all.

I teach in the lineage of Krishnamacharya through the beautifully simple and profound yoga I’ve received from Mark Whitwell.  My knowledge of traditional midwifery is from Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. The union of these two understandings creates a body of wisdom that is both whole and relevant.

AUGUST 13-16,

Friday through Monday, 10:00am to 6:00pm

$485.00

Certificate; Yoga Alliance and RMT CEU’s given.

To register, please email crescence@heartofbirth.org or call 416.994.4566

I am a woman who practices Yoga.   That’s a simple statement but not always a simple situation to navigate.  Despite the social and political victories that women have achieved, the Feminine is still deeply suppressed.  I bear witness to this in the hospital, where almost nothing is set up to support a woman in giving birth through her own power.  It is only because of the kindness and wisdom of some individual nurses and obstetricians that I and my clients are free to let the birth process, the Life process, express itself and lead the way.  And I would say the same dynamic exists in the Yoga world.  There are individuals who recognize that connecting to the Feminine, the movement of Life, is necessary for an experience of Yoga but this recognition is just beginning to penetrate the general understanding.  So I get my inspiration where I can.

And I found a wonderful source of it in the life story of a great Yogini, Yeshe Tsogyal.  She was born into a noble family in Tibet in 777 A.D..  Usually the stories of ancient, spiritually gifted people are about men and their lives have been turned into myths that no one can relate to.  But this story touched me and it is a woman’s.  As a young teenager, Yeshe was brutally raped by her first suitor.  She ran away from her second suitor and was placed in the King’s harem.  When she was sixteen, she was offered as a consort to the King’s guru, Lord Padmasambhava.  He freed her and she became his disciple and then his spiritual heir.

One winter, a few years later, she found herself living alone in a cave.  Her soul mate and “mystical consort” had left her there because he couldn’t take the cold, having grown up in the milder climate of the Kathmandu valley.  It was then that her earlier trauma came back and she came into relationship with her psychological demons.

Visions rose up before her in her meditations, full of hideous and terrifying intensity.  Hordes of phantoms advanced upon her: fearful, seductive, malign and evil.  With these, the products of her own traumatic passions, she wrestled, while remaining unmovable in her vajra-like samadhi, the immutable poise of impartial contemplation.  For days the onslaught continued until finally she was left in peace.  This was the trial of her final spiritual catharsis.

Granted, this is a rather heroic description of her healing process!  But the acknowledgment that the demons were a manifestation of her own trauma is insightful, I think.   A thousand and a half years ago, women were successfully dealing with the effects of the wounded Masculine.  After her horror had passed, the Masculine and Feminine in Yeshe merged and she felt whole.  I see women go through this in labour.  The pain of opening can ignite your memory of past pain.  Because Life is moving so strongly during the birth process though, the opportunity for integration in the present is particularly ripe.  The birthing room becomes your cave.

But to finish the story, Yeshe and her man got back together and continued to practice Yoga with each other.  She travelled all over Tibet with Padmasambhava, her guru, burying texts for the benefit of future generations.  When she was twenty- eight, she became a fully enlightened Buddha.  It is guessed that she died in her early fifties.  As was the case with Yeshe, we don’t have to literally give birth in order to give birth to ourselves.  Yoga offers us a way to enter our lives renewed.  When demons dance, we can receive them, watch and wait.

Link to the site with Yeshe Tsogyal’s story.

Eating and drinking well during early labour (when contractions are gentle and short and spaced more than five minutes apart) will give you the strength you’ll need for the intense part of the birth process.  Focus on complex carbohydrates and easily digested protein.  A bowl of rolled oats with yogourt and fruit, whole grain muffins or bread, pasta, brown rice and steamed vegetables, eggs, soy, baked sweet potato…might appeal to you.   Staying well hydrated in active labour (when strong, long contractions are happening five minutes apart or less) is essential for you and your baby.  Having frequent sips of fluids which contain some calories is ideal.  If you are feeling nauseous, try plain water.

Otherwise, watered down fruit juice is good.  Choose something that isn’t citrus as the acidity can upset your stomach.  Natural apple, apricot, or pear juice are easily digested.   Herbal tea with honey is another option.

Below is a recipe for a drink that will help you maintain your electrolyte balance.  If your labour is particularly long or you have thrown up a fair bit, this can give you energy and help you avoid dehydration or clinical exhaustion.  It’s an alternative to Gatoraide and can prevent the need for I.V. fluids.   Drinking this after you have given birth is helpful too as you will have lost some blood with the birth of the placenta.  I remember gulping it by the glassful.  Yum.

Labour-aide

1 litre water or 1/2 litre water and 1/2 litre non-citrus fruit juice

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

optional: a couple of tablespoons liquid calcium/magnesium supplement (helps with efficient muscle contraction and relaxation)

I am very moved to be part of this book.  It is a collective creation about birth written from a doula’s perspective.  It will be going to press soon!

As doulas, we have an intimate experience of love in the purest sense of the word.  Love as the force that brings us here and binds us as one.  We bear witness to this force and to the obstacles that are put in her way.  Our way.  Life’s way.

Fellow doulas Lisa Doran and Lisa Caron edited and authored and nurtured this work.  More details to follow!

All creative acts come from the same source and unfold according to the same principles.  I discovered this when I instinctively used the techniques I had learned in my Voice training to give birth to my daughter.  Just recently, I have been the receiver of two creations that are close to my heart.

My niece, Sophie, is the first.  She was born at home in peace, attended by my brother (her father) and in the last few hours, by two midwives.  My sister-in-law used her strength to receive the power of Life and release her daughter into the world.  We are all grateful!

Having  just written about how Yoga is Strength Receiving, I got an email from Caylie Staples letting me know about the upcoming release of her first album, ‘Receiver’. Caylie writes:

I was working with you a lot during the time that I was writing the material and… recording it…you were a big part of my ideas about giving and receiving – thank you!

The album was recorded by Alex Unger and features myself (voice and songs), Katie Dutemple (voice), Felicity Williams (voice), Matt Brubeck (cello), Daniel Fortin (bass) and D. Alex Meeks (drums) -all wrapped up in a beautiful package designed by Emmott Clancy and printed by Standard Form!

CD RELEASE PARTY for ‘RECEIVER’
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm
The Southern Cross Lounge at the Tranzac
in downtown Toronto
Free show; albums $10.00

The release will feature the band from the album, with Cory Latkovich subbing in for Matt Brubeck on cello – if you want to hear both of these fantastic cellists, get the record and come to the show!  The band is very excited to hear what this new member will bring to the table!  We will also be joined by some very special, secret GUEST IMPROVISERS for part of the evening.  Material from the album as well as very new material will be played!  Toronto folks can pick the record up at the release show or from ‘Soundscapes’ on College Street.

When you think of birth, what comes to mind?  What feelings move through you?

In an American study that midwife and filmmaker Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova told me about, 95% of women felt that giving birth had been a traumatic experience for them.  Their babies experienced that trauma too since a baby receives its mother’s flow of hormones and the emotions that go with them.  So most Americans born today experience their entry into the world as a very frightening thing.  The flow of Life is associated with terror.  It makes sense then, that  contemporary culture is so resourceful at keeping us disassociated from ourselves.

The thing is, terror and trauma is not what nature intends for us.  When a woman feels safe and her process is not interfered with, she and her baby meet each other in a state of ecstasy.  They are filled with the hormones of love.  Peace and joy are an integral part of birth and all of life.  Peace and joy are our natural state.

Yoga, in its original expression, understands this.  Yoga connects us to the essence of what we are: the joyous movement of Life.  Two mornings ago,  I witnessed this movement in a dramatic way in the 2 hour birth of a 9 1/2 pound baby boy.  It was the mother’s third child and the third time I was with her and her husband.  As with her second, she had dilated quite effortlessly to 4cm the week before.  We knew that when strong contractions came, the birth would happen quickly.  The memory of her amniotic waters gushing from her is clear in my mind.  And the open armed gesture of her son as he lay between her thighs in the moment before she gathered him to her, umbilical cord still attached.

I got an email from a pregnant friend yesterday, thanking me for the birth preparation session I had done with her.  She wrote: “I feel calmer than I have in quite a while.  It was important to look at birth from a normal, natural, healthy, joyous perspective rather than discussing all the things that could go wrong.”  We’re here in order to feel joy.  We’re here to pass it on.

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