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Heart of Birth presents a

Rebozo Workshop with Isabel Perez

Learn how to use a rebozo, a Guatemalan/Mexican shawl, to support a woman during labour.  It’s like having another set of hands!  The rebozo can be used in any birthing environment to relax the mother, ease her pain and help with the positioning of her baby.  This will be an interactive workshop with plenty of time to practice techniques, ask questions and get an introduction to the skills and understanding of traditional midwifery.

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

10:00am to 3:00pm

Eka Yoga Centre, 473A Church Street, Toronto, ON  M4Y 2C5

(south of Wellesley Street)

Fee: $75.00

Please bring a flat bed sheet to practice with!

Some beautiful woolen rebozos from Guatemala will be available for sale; they can also be ordered through Isabel.

To register contact Crescence: crescence@heartofbirth.org; 416.994.4566

Isabel Perez has helped women give birth over the last 33 years.  She trained as a midwife with the renowned Ina May Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery and recipient of ‘The Right Livelihood Award’ in 2011, known as the ‘Alternate Nobel Prize’.  Isabel worked with Ina May for four years on The Farm in Tennessee before moving to Toronto, where she continued to practice midwifery for eleven years, until 1993.  Since then, she has served women as a doula.  Isabel grew up in Guatemala, where the seed of her spiritual understanding was planted by her great-grandmother, a Mayan midwife, and her father, a shaman.  It flowers now in her birth work and teaching.  For more of Isabel’s story: https://heartofbirth.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/isabel-perez-a-life-in-birth/  

Twenty-two years ago, I bought a copy of Spiritual Midwifery at the original Big Carrot, a small wooden floored health food store on the south side of the Danforth.  The book was filled with pictures of long haired hippies and accounts of their birth stories.  It blew my mind.  When I finished it, I knew that someday I wanted to give birth at home with midwives.  Two years later, I did.  Ina May’s presence in my life has continued.  My midwife, Mary Sharpe, is friends with her, and Isabel Perez, my back-up over the last eighteen years, trained as a midwife with her and worked with her for four years before coming to Toronto.  When I was just beginning to attend births, Isabel and I drove down to Tennessee in a van filled with midwives and midwifery students to take part in a conference that was hosted by Ina May and the Farm.  I learned a ton and felt like I had had a little taste of living American history.

Isabel and I did a much easier drive to Ottawa a couple of years ago to hear Ina May speak at another conference.  There was a whole new generation of young women with their men there, some of whom had yet to have babies.  Ina May was able to connect with them and they with her.  It’s a very inspiring bridging of the generations and one that is essential to the continued transmission of feminine knowledge and wisdom.  As I have gotten older and my daughter has become a woman, I am more aware that we all need to keep passing on what we know.  We all have a responsibility to be teachers.

Ina May has a wonderful sense of humour and a very down to earth and crystal clear way of communicating.  She hasn’t been in Toronto in many years so this is a rare opportunity to hear her speak.  With Isabel Perez, Lisa Caron and Lisa Doran have organized this event.  They are doulas and mothers and healers and writers and they are doing a wonderful job of passing the wisdom on.
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

visionLife is one.  That’s the message I got from Ina May Gaskin last Friday night in Ottawa.  It’s the message of Yoga too.  The action of Yoga is to surrender your breath to the Whole/Ishvara.  Your whole body participates in the flow of Life.

It was a clear fall day when Isabel Perez and I drove from Toronto to Ottawa.  Blue sky touched red and orange leaves and the pink stone cliffs beneath them.  The vivid colours reminded Isabel of the great quantities of brightly dyed sawdust she helped her family make when she was a child in Guatamala.  People bought the material at Christmas time to decorate their handmade nativity scenes.  Isabel’s memories have merged with the Canadian landscape and have added another layer to my perception of it too. 

Isabel and her family came to Tennessee in the 70’s so that she could train as a midwife with Ina May.  Our journey to Ottawa was a brief reunion.  Ina May was the final speaker at the Breech Birth Conference.  It was billed as a storytelling event.  Ina May is a wonderful entertainer.  I spent most of the evening laughing.  Her stories were of the link between childbearing women and other mammals.  How we share the one process of Life.  

Ina May said she loves old books.  They are often sources of lost knowledge and alternate frames of mind.  In an 18th Century medical textbook , she found suggestions for relieving milk engorged breasts that included an “intelligent maid” and a cooperative goat.  This was in an era before the invention of the breast pump.  Intelligent, cooperative husbands were the standard solution on the Farm, she said.  In the weeks before his baby was able to latch onto the breast, Ina May told of one skinny vegan man who blossomed in his efforts to build and maintain his wife’s milk supply.  Breast is indeed best.

In order to give birth, the primal brain stem, the part of the brain we share with all living creatures, must be freed from the tyranny of the modern, rational brain.  In order to give birth, we must surrender to our animal selves.  It is in this surrender that we experience love.  Images of the direct connection between animals and us are in the media now.  Perhaps we are remembering our link with Life.  Ina May mentioned the photo of Tori Amos suckling a piglet.  I happened on the less provocative but very beautiful mixed media exhibition of Gregory Colbert, entitled ‘Ashes and Snow’ which opened in Venice in 2002 and has been touring the world since.  The photo of the boy and the bird at the top of this post is one of Colbert’s. 

The audience for Ina May on Friday was a young one.  I felt quite ancient in its midst and quite delighted.  I have hope.

 

Ina May Gaskin and Isabel Perez

Ina May Gaskin and Isabel Perez

 

Isabel Perez has been my friend over the last fifteen years. Her life encompasses the ancient and modern, the rural and urban, South and North America. Birth has always been at the centre of Isabel’s life. She lives within an effortless recognition that the seen is evidence of the unseen, that heaven and earth are one condition.

Isabel was born in Guatemala to Mayan parents. Her great-grandmother was a nodrisa, a traditional midwife. Her father was a shaman. After the devastating earthquake in 1976, Isabel, her husband and children were brought to the U.S. by Ina May Gaskin, a pioneering midwife, now world renowned. Isabel trained and worked with Ina May for four years on The Farm in Tennessee. She contributed to a community whose way of handling birth resulted in a caesarean rate of only 1.4% amongst 2,028 women from 1970 to 2000. Home was the environment for 95.1% of the births. Isabel then moved to Toronto where she practiced midwifery until it was integrated into the Ontario health care system in 1993. Subsequently, Isabel has worked as a doula.

What follows is some of the conversation we had in her kitchen this past May. The sounds of living accompanied our talk: splashing water running from the kitchen sink, rice being washed, boiled and stirred; tea being poured; spoons touching bowls; our swallows. Isabel cooked and shared a breakfast of rice pudding while she carried the thread of her narrative. These sounds place her story in the current of daily life. Hear them as you read!

Crescence Krueger What is the most powerful thing that you bring to a birth?

Isabel Perez Confidence. Peace. Love. And trust. Those are the words my clients use, eh? So I’m just repeating them. I have a very simple personality. And that works for me almost everywhere. It’s very simple, the way that I work. Very simple. You have seen.

CK  That’s what I love.  Read the rest of this entry »